Our new book, Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights and Policy, is the first law-school textbook on the subject.
It appears at an opportune time. It has been four years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear firearms for the purpose of self-defense, and two years since the Court held in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Second Amendment right protects against infringement by state and local governments, not only the federal government. State and lower federal courts are now grappling with the implications of the newly affirmed right to arms in cases involving the right to carry a handgun for self-defense, the validity of bans on certain types of rifles and magazines, and other issues.
Our introductory chapter gives students the background needed to engage the law in this area by first explaining basic facts about firearms terminology and current gun laws in the United States. The book then proceeds in a broadly chronological order. It begins with classical Western and Asian sources on the law and morality of arms-bearing and self-defense, and continues through the English background of the American right to arms. We address in detail a range of sources from the revolutionary and ratification eras of U.S. history. The rich nineteenth-century legal discourse on the right to arms, before and after the Civil War, is covered in detail.