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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

Scholarship Highlight: “State Preemption of Local Gun Regulations: Taking Aim at Barriers to Change in Firearm Policy”

Posted by on April 30, 2021

Although the Second Amendment still tends to get all the attention in debates about firearms law, scholars are starting to pay more attention to state-level preemption laws, which currently present a more significant legal barrier to gun regulation than the Constitution. Broad changes in preemption law have been a topic of particular concern to scholars […]

When Guns Threaten the Public Sphere: Recovering the Common Law Approach to Public Safety

Posted by on January 15, 2021

What can armed protest teach about the case for gun regulation?  Reva Siegel and I have just posted our article, When Guns Threaten the Public Sphere: Recovering the Common Law Approach to Public Safety, which is forthcoming as part of the Northwestern Law Review symposium the Center co-sponsored this past fall. Here is the abstract: […]

Harvard Law Review NYSRPA Case Comment

Posted by on November 13, 2020

It’s fair to say that when the Supreme Court granted cert in NYSRPA, I did not expect that the eventual Harvard Law Review Case Comment about the decision would appear under the header “Article III—Justiciability—Mootness.” But, of course, that’s just how the case ended up. Still, the Comment, which was just published online (and is […]

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 […]