Month: August 2019

Announcing the Center’s Research Affiliate Program

We are extremely excited to announce the Research Affiliate Program (“RAP”), a new initiative of the Center for Firearms Law. The program is designed to support junior and aspiring scholars, including current graduate students, post-docs, visiting or adjunct faculty, and practitioners as they develop research and scholarship on firearms law. These nonresident affiliations are open to individuals studying firearms law, broadly defined, and working in the legal profession or in history, political science, public policy, or related fields.

Affiliates will receive a stipend to cover research-related costs, access to Duke resources, and connections with the Center’s network. During the initial phase, we expect to have 1-2 affiliates for a term of 9-12 months.

We start accepting applications Sunday, September 1st! You can find more information about the Center, the RAP, and how to apply here:

Firearms Law Workshop Mini-Symposium, Part VII: The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Outside the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.  But, under the Constitution, that right is circumscribed.  It is not “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Nor does the Second Amendment impose limits on private parties’ authority to restrict firearms on their own property, on local governments’ power to regulate secondary effects of firearms-related activity (e.g. noise levels), or on the remedies available to private plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit arising from firearms-related harm. The Constitution simply sets a floor on the scope of the right to keep and bear arms.

Firearms Law Workshop Mini-Symposium, Part VI: Guns in the Private Square

When Americans go out in public, they may encounter civilians carrying guns either openly or concealed.  For some, this is a scary thought, for others, a reassuring one.  But regardless of where they stand on the issue, most Americans assume that whether their day to day lives will be awash in guns will primarily be determined by politics and specifically where their state and local politicians stand on gun control and gun rights.  But is that really true?

Firearms Law Workshop Mini-Symposium, Part V: The Use of the Second Amendment to Reject Conscription

In 2019, national conscription, or the draft, no longer feels like the ominous threat to civil liberties that it once did. Today, American male citizens must still register at 18 and there are existing proposals and a national commission considering expanding the draft to include women. Yet, the first and most significant fight over the constitutionality of conscription occurred during the American Civil War. Constitutional conservatives believed the power to draft would lead to a consolidated, centralized and despotic national government. Looking to preserve the original structure of federalism, constitutional conservatives saw the Second Amendment as an additional bulwark against the expansion of federal power. However, the use of the Second Amendment was primarily used by lawyers and a handful of influential legally-trained politicians to bolster their core objections to conscription and never became central to constitutional challenges in the wider, popular debates.

Firearms Law Workshop Mini-Symposium, Part IV: Regulation, Not Rights: the Early History of a National Firearms Industry

It should be no surprise that today some of the biggest gun companies are in New England, where the government fostered the development of firearms manufacturing. These include Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC (Hartford, CT), Smith and Wesson (Springfield, MA), and Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc., (Southport, CT). Although discussions of gun culture today tend to focus on the Second Amendment, we should consider the origins of the government’s intervention in the arms industry, a history that involves regulating the types of firearms manufacturers brought to the market. By understanding the precise ways the federal government fostered the emergence of an industry that is dependent on both military conflict and a civilian gun culture, we can point to the ways the government is obligated to regulate it. It is more than a Second Amendment issue; it is a safety regulation issue.

Firearms Law Workshop Mini-Symposium, Part III: Framing the Second Amendment: Gun Rights, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

How we label, characterize, and frame constitutional rights matters. In gun rights discourse, advocates and commentators have referred to the Second Amendment as a “collective,” “civic republican,” “individual,” and “fundamental” right. Gun rights advocates have defended the right to keep and bear arms on “law and order” and anti-tyranny grounds, while gun control proponents have urged regulation based on “public health,” “human rights,” and other concerns. These concepts, vocabularies, and frames have significantly influenced how advocates and institutions have debated, interpreted, and enforced the right to keep and bear arms.

Firearms Law Workshop Mini-Symposium, Part II: Gun Politics in Blue

August 14 was a terrifying day for Philadelphia. For seven hours, Philadelphia police officers engaged in a hostage standoff with a suspect armed with an illegally possessed AR-15 and handgun. The incident left six police officers injured. Since then, calls for gun control have surged both from within the law enforcement community and on behalf of it. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents chiefs like LAPD’s Michel Moore, called for a renewed assault weapons ban; Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney demanded gun control to “Help our police officers. Help our clergy. Help our kids.”

Firearms Law Workshop Mini-Symposium, Part I: Going Gunless

I returned home to Houston from the workshop at the Duke Center for Firearms Law on Saturday morning, and reached my home just as the news reports broke from El Paso about the massacre at the Wal Mart there.  When I woke up the next morning, there were news reports about a similar atrocity in Dayton, OH.  The same weekend, the city of Chicago had 52 shootings (numerous separate incidents), with seven fatalities, its deadliest weekend so far in 2019.  Mt. Sinai Hospital had to divert ambulances to other trauma centers because it reached its maximum capacity.

Mini-Symposium on the First Firearms Law Works-in-Progress Workshop

After our tremendously engaging first (of what we hope will be many) Firearms Law Works-in-Progress Workshops, we are excited to have a group of those who presented drafts at the workshop blogging about their pieces. As Joseph highlighted in his retrospective on the event, these papers were eclectic and generated fascinating discussion.

During this week and next, we will be publishing one post each day in which the author briefly describes the nature of their project. (I’ll post on the draft that I discussed at the conference, as well.)

  • Dru Stevenson, Professor Law, South Texas College of Law
  • Jennifer Carlson, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Arizona
  • Timothy Zick, John Marshall Professor of Government and Citizenship and Cabell Research Professor, William & Mary Law School
  • Lindsay Schakenbach Regele, Robert H. and Nancy J. Blayney Professor of History, Miami University of Ohio
  • Nicholas Mosvick, Assistant Professor, Adjunct Faculty, Christopher Newport University
  • Cody Jacobs, Lecturer, Boston University School of Law
  • Jake Charles, Executive Director, Duke Center for Firearms Law

Thanks to all the participants in the workshop, including not only the presenters, but also the stellar senior scholars who moderated panels, questioned assumptions, and provided crucial feedback on these and other projects.

Where Are All the Second Amendment Circuit Splits?

Gun debates are notoriously contentious and controversial, and they seldom lead to consensus. Gun litigation is a different story. In the hundreds of Second Amendment challenges in the federal courts since Heller, there has been surprising judicial agreement. Among federal courts of appeals, there is near-consensus on most questions. There are some noteworthy circuit splits, to be sure, but those are localized and limited. The more surprising aspect of federal circuit court treatment of the Second Amendment is how well-settled so many issues have become only a decade into the existence of a legally enforceable individual right.