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About Joseph Blocher

Faculty Co-Director and Lanty L. Smith ’67 Professor Law. Blocher researches federal and state constitutional law, the First and Second Amendments, legal history, and property. His current scholarship addresses issues of gun rights and regulation, free speech, sovereignty, and refugee law. He has published dozens of articles on those topics and co-authored Free Speech Beyond Words (NYU Press, 2017) and The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Written by Joseph Blocher

The Breadth of Judge Barrett’s “Dangerousness” Principle

Posted by and on October 2, 2020

Judge Amy Coney Barrett opened her dissent in Kanter v. Barr by identifying a historical principle underlying modern gun regulation: “History is consistent with common sense: it demonstrates that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns.” She went on to suggest that dangerousness is the Second Amendment’s exclusive limiting principle, such […]

ECHR Ruling on the “Right to Life”

Posted by on September 23, 2020

Earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Finnish authorities violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to take sufficient steps to prevent a school shooting. (h/t Larry Helfer) From the Registrar of Court’s summary of the facts: The perpetrator had been given a gun licence by the local police […]

Scholarship Highlight Interview: Sheila Simon on Second Amendment Sanctuaries

Posted by on August 12, 2020

Sheila Simon, Assistant Professor of Law at Southern Illinois University School of Law, recently published a fascinating paper about gun sanctuary ordinances – On Target? Assessing Gun Sanctuary Ordinances that Conflict with State Law, 122 W. Va. L. Rev. 817 (2020) – which she was generous enough to discuss with me in our most recent […]

Scholarship Highlight Interview: Natalie Nanasi on Disarming Domestic Abusers

Posted by on July 22, 2020

I recently had a chance to talk with Natalie Nanasi, Assistant Professor of Law at SMU Dedman School of Law and Director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women. Prof. Nanasi has written a lot of incisive scholarship on issues including immigration, domestic violence, and feminist legal theory. […]

Scholarship Highlight: Jennifer Tucker on Public History and Guns

Posted by on July 17, 2020

Second Amendment scholars naturally spend a great deal of time and energy focusing on questions about the history of gun rights and regulation, but less time investigating questions about how that history is or should be presented to the public in venues like museum exhibits. Historian Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan) has done as much as any […]

An Alternative Answer in NYSRPA

Posted by on April 3, 2020

[This discussion from Joseph Blocher and Reva Siegel is cross-posted from Oral Argument 2.0] New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York No. 18-280 – Argued December 2, 2019 At Issue Whether a New York City rule banning the transportation of a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range […]

Three Questions about the Second Amendment and the Temporary Closure of Gun Stores

Posted by on March 31, 2020

The closure of “non-essential” businesses in response to the spread of Covid-19 raises a host of difficult legal questions. Among those questions, of course, are some involving right to keep and bear arms. Put simply: Does the Second Amendment permit gun stores be temporarily closed? Some advocates and commentators have suggested that this is an […]

Why Regulate Guns?

Posted by on December 3, 2019

[This post by Reva Siegel and Joseph Blocher was originally published on the Take Care blog on 12/2 and and is cross-posted there.] The Supreme Court is about to hear argument in its first major Second Amendment case in nearly a decade. The regulation in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York (NYSRPA), which restricted transport of […]

SCOTUSBlog Symposium: Disrupting the consensus on Second Amendment doctrine would be a mistake

Posted by on November 21, 2019

[This post is part of a symposium on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, hosted on SCOTUSblog and is cross-posted there.] Joseph Blocher is Lanty L. Smith ’67 Professor of Law at Duke Law School, where he co-directs the Center for Firearms Law. Eric Ruben is Assistant Professor of […]

Unbannable Arms?

Posted by on November 15, 2019

When it comes to the “Arms” protected by the Second Amendment, the conceptual space is typically divided into two categories. Some weapons, like those that are “dangerous and unusual,” can be banned without raising any constitutional problems. For those that are not dangerous and unusual, the government has to satisfy some requisite level of scrutiny. […]