After a Wave of Scholarship in 20 Years, the Verdict is In: Americans Embrace Guns

Image: www.shecanshoot.com

Image: shecanshoot

Despite anti-gun hysteria following shootings, the trend is toward expanding gun rights.

For USA TodayGlenn Harlan Reynolds writes: This past weekend, the Tennessee Law Review held a symposium on “New Frontiers in the Second Amendment.” It was a follow-up, of sorts, to a symposium held almost 20 years ago, and boy, has a lot changed since then.

“Overall, the trend of the past couple of decades seems to be toward expanding gun rights, just as the trend in the 1950s and 1960s was toward expanding free speech rights”

In 1995, Second Amendment scholarship had been almost entirely nonexistent for decades, and what little there was (mostly written by lobbyists for gun-control groups) treated the matter as open-and-shut: The Second Amendment, we were told, protected only the right of state militias (or as former Chief Justice Warren Burger characterized them, “state armies“) to possess guns.

Image: www.shecanshoot.com

Image: shecanshoot

Lower court opinions, to the extent they existed, were largely in agreement, and the political discussion, such as it was, generally held that anyone who believed that the Second Amendment might embody a judicially enforceable right for ordinary citizens to possess guns was a shill — probably paid — for the NRA. Whatever the Second Amendment meant, it did not, we were told, protect a right of individuals to possess firearms, enforceable in court against governmental entities that infringed on individuals’ gun possession.

But then came a wave of scholarship, much of it by eminent constitutional scholars ranging from William Van Alstyne, to Laurence Tribe, to Sanford Levinson, toRobert Cottrol, exploring the original purposes and understanding of the Second Amendment. By the turn of the millennium, it was well-established among scholars that the Second Amendment was intended to protect an individual right to arms, one that would be enforceable in court against infringements by states, municipalities and the federal government.

[Glenn Reynolds is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself look for it at Amazon]

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