10 Years After Heller, Does ‘Normalizing’ the Second Amendment Mean Ignoring It?

American Enterprise Institute Next month it will be 10 years since District of Columbia v. Heller , the landmark case in which the Supreme Court acknowledged that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to armed self-defense. In that time the Court has done almost nothing to clarify the contours of that right. The two exceptions are McDonald v. Chicago , the 2010 case in which the Court said the Second Amendment constrains states and cities as well as the federal government, and Caetano v. Massachusetts , a 2016 case involving a ban on stun guns in which the Court reiterated that weapons covered by the Second Amendment are not limited to those that are suitable for warfare or those that were in common use when the amendment was enacted. Critics, including Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch , frequently complain that the Court is neglecting the Second Amendment, letting judges who are hostile to gun rights flout Heller by upholding unconstitutional restrictions on firearms. Duke law professor Joseph Blocher and Eric Ruben, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, challenge that account, arguing that lower courts for the most part are simply applying the Second Amendment exceptions drawn by Heller . While there is some truth to that claim, it underestimates both the extent to which judges have ignored the implications of Heller and the extent to which that decision left important issues unresolved . Blocher and Ruben analyzed every Second Amendment case decided by state and […]

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