Postscript: Guns, Violence, and the Law: How Federal Courts are Trying to Figure Out the Second Amendment


Two blockbuster cases came down in June of 2022. The Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade and New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen substantially expanded Second Amendment rights and limited the power of states to regulate concealed carry of firearms. Bruen affected thousands of Americans who have had their laws overturned and radically changed the method by which federal judges evaluate firearms law. Two remarkable scholars of the Second Amendment and firearms law explain how law makers, law enforcers, and federal courts have responded. They discuss differences among the conservative justices that produced this fragile holding, the growing dependence on history but disdain for historians, how the Bruen approach hurts laws involving domestic violence or controlled substances, the problem of overreading historical silences, and the ways violence may be addressed through community violence intervention, free markets, etc. – in ways SCOTUS cannot control.

Jacob Charles is an Associate Professor of Law, Pepperdine Caruso School of Law – a constitutional law scholar focusing on the Second Amendment and firearms law. Before joining the faculty Pepperdine, he served as the inaugural executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University School of Law. He has a terrific new piece coming out in the Duke Law Journal called “The Dead Hand of a Silent Past: Bruen, Gun Rights, and the Shackles of History.” Jake combines ambitious academic scholarship in law journals with public facing work for outlets such as the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Slate, The Hill, Bloomberg Law, and other outlets. Besides being a great friend to this podcast, he has been quoted in the New York Times, CNN, and NPR.

Dru Stevenson is the Wayne Fischer Research Professor at South Texas College of Law Houston. Professor Stevenson joined the faculty in 2003 after a law career that included practicing as a Legal Aid lawyer in Connecticut and serving as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut. His publications cover topics ranging from criminal law to civil procedure, with an emphasis on the intersection of law with economics and linguistic theory. His articles have been cited in leading academic journals and treatises, by federal and state appellate courts, and in recent briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Stevenson’s current research focus is firearm law and policy. His Revisiting the Original Congressional Debates About the Second Amendmentprovides a missing analyses of the debates, situating each statement in Congress within the context of the speaker’s background and political stances on issues overlapping with the right to keep and bear arms.

Susan Liebell is a Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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Susan Liebell

Susan Liebell is a Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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