Month: August 2019

Common Cause, Clear Standards, and Heller’s Second Amendment

 

In Rucho v. Common Cause, the Supreme Court declared that partisan gerrymandering is a nonjusticiable political issue.  Two factors seem key to the Court’s holding: the difficulty of finding a manageable standard to assess such claims and the thorny expansion of judicial review into an area of deep political controversy. Some of these same concerns permeate Second Amendment litigation; but, perhaps surprisingly, they gave the Heller majority no pause when it first announced an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Scholarship Highlight: James B. Jacobs & Zoe Fuhr, “The Toughest Gun Control Law in the Nation” (NYU Press 2019)

Yesterday, amici filed briefs in support of the City in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York—the Second Amendment case that many thought (and some still think) might be a blockbuster. (Full disclosure: Along with Darrell Miller and Eric Ruben, I submitted an amicus brief in support of neither side.) There is much to say about the implications for the future of the Second Amendment, but the strange saga of NYSRPA so far also raises interesting questions about the law and politics surrounding New York’s gun laws.

The “Handgun Article” in Justice Powell’s Papers

Twenty seven years ago this week, Justice Powell’s clerk sent him a lengthy fax with the subject line “Handgun Article.” Along with Justice Stevens’ post-retirement commentary (about which Darrell and I will have more to say shortly), I think it might be the most thorough statement of a Justice’s views on guns and the Second Amendment outside a legal opinion—that is, of course, if they’re actually his. And yet, until recently, I’d never even seen it.

Firearms Law Works-in-Progress Workshop

On Friday, the Center for Firearms Law hosted the first of what we hope will become an annual Firearms Law Works-in-Progress Workshop. The immediate goal was to give scholars—especially those new to the area—a chance to engage with another’s work. More broadly, and in keeping with the Center’s overall mission, our hope was to help build a scholarly community and to broaden and deepen firearms law as a scholarly discipline.

Book Mini-Symposium Part V: The Hard, Simple Truth of Gun Control

There is one, and only one, form of gun control that has been shown to reduce murders: anything that reduces the number of handguns in general circulation. Handguns matter most because they account for at least two-thirds of gun-related murders and about half of all murders. No other affluent nation has anything approaching the level of lethal violence as does the United States. That is the case, quite simply, because other nations rigorously restrict handgun possession. Most so-called commonsense measures that U.S. politicians, and the gun control movement itself, promote have not been shown to reduce lethal violence. Moreover, the regulatory model that both gun rights advocates and gun control advocates support – denying guns to the untrustworthy while allowing the trustworthy to possess them – is patently unworkable. It is, and will always be, impossible to effectively differentiate between the two groups. That is the hard, simple truth about gun control.

Book Mini-Symposium Part IV: Good Moms with Guns

Read the headlines: Toddler shoots and kills mother. Police officer’s toddler son kills himself with his father’s service weapon. Toddler kills older sibling despite being trained in gun use.  In addition to killing others, small children suffer accidental self-inflicted gunshots, inadvertently are killed by siblings or playmates, and some are accidentally (or purposely) shot by adults. With facts like these, how could any “good” mom keep a gun in her home? Still others think a “good” mom should have a gun to protect herself and her children and failure to have one is parental irresponsibility.

To understand these seeming contradictions, I interviewed good moms with guns and toddlers. The good moms with guns that I interviewed expressed what I term a “relational right” to their guns. By “relational,” I mean that the guns have come to represent important, primarily male relationships in their lives. There are three archetypical “good moms with guns:” committed; compromising; and convinced. I provide an example of each.

Book Mini-Symposium Part III: Guns, Interpretation, and Executive-Branch Constitutionalism

This chapter focuses on a relatively unnoticed group of actors in the ongoing story of guns and the Constitution: state and local government officials. These ground-level actors include police officers and sheriffs, mayors, even attorneys general and governors; a focus on these officials, and the sites at which they encounter, respond to, and help shape the meaning of the Second Amendment—from amicus briefs to claims of interpretive autonomy to non-enforcement of state or federal gun laws—can help shed light on how constitutional meaning is made.