Firearms Law Online Chapters

  • Date:
  • August 20, 2020

The casebook Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy is used in several law school classes on firearms law. It also functions as a treatise for academics, practitioners, and anyone else interested in this subject. A third edition of the casebook is scheduled to be published next year.

Five online chapters spanning 636 pages supplement the casebook’s eleven printed chapters. These online chapters recently were updated and are now available at no charge on the casebook’s website. They are co-authored by Nicholas J. Johnson, David B. Kopel, George A. Mocsary, and me.

For the Duke Center’s Scholarship Highlight interview series, Jake Charles recently spoke about the updated online chapters with George A. Mocsary, professor at Wyoming College of Law and one of the casebook’s co-authors. Jake and George talked about Chapter 14 on Comparative Law. I’d like to follow up with an overview of the remaining online chapters.

Here are the titles, a brief summary, and notable points for each chapter:

  • Chapter 12–Firearms Policy and Status: Race, Gender, Age, Disability, and Sexual Orientation

This chapter examines the costs and benefits of firearms for diverse groups in American society as defined by race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, marijuana use, military service, and American Indian tribal law and culture. In addition to amicus briefs in which advocates set forth their views directly, the chapter includes judicial decisions, relevant statutes, and historical material. Especially relevant are the divergent views about the role of firearms and gun control in Black communities.

  • Chapter 13–International Law.

This chapter covers international-law principles and documents involving self-defense and firearms control. It considers the leading international legal conventions on the right of self-defense or gun control (e.g., Universal Declaration of Human Rights, various United Nations programs and standards), major regional firearms agreements (e.g., Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacture of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials), the legal and philosophical foundations of international law and the individual and collective rights of self-defense (e.g., the writings of Grotius, Pufendorf, and other framers of classic international law), genocide, and arguments for whether and how international gun control should be implemented. One interesting section examines the extent to which international law recognizes the right of people to forcefully resist genocide and whether that right overcomes otherwise valid laws that prevent the acquisition or use of firearms.

  • Chapter 14–Comparative Law.

This chapter compares and contrasts the domestic gun laws of various nations and examines the consequences of those laws. It is the subject of the interview with George A. Mocsary, so I refer you to the blog post and video for information about this chapter.

  • Chapter 15–In-Depth Explanation of Firearms and Ammunition.

Knowledge of how firearms and ammunition function is essential to careful thinking about firearms law and the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of policymakers, litigators, and judges getting their facts wrong about firearm operation and use. This chapter describes the components, operation, and safe handling of firearms and ammunition, explains the specific features and uses of handguns, rifles, and shotguns, examines special types of firearms and accessories, including those covered by the National Firearms Act (machine guns, bump-stocks, and silencers), and even covers nonfirearm arms such as stun guns and edged weapons. Especially useful is how the chapter connects firearm mechanics with various aspects of gun policy.

  • Chapter 16–Antecedents of the Second Amendment.

The casebook examines the history of the right to arms in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Yet debates about the legitimate use of arms and legitimate forms of arms control long precede this history. This chapter provides a sampling of arguments various thinkers have offered for and against arms possession and about appropriate legal constraints on the use of arms. Many of these readings are part of the intellectual background of the Second Amendment. The chapter includes material from ancient China, Greece, and Rome, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and European political philosophy. It emphasizes various themes, including the morality of the use of force (or deadly force) in self-defense, the distribution of force between government and the people, and the benefits and dangers of militias versus standing armies.

Firearms law is both fascinating and extensive. We invite you to explore the wide range of materials in these updated online chapters.