If you would like to know what’s been going on with right to arms litigation in the past two years, you’re in luck. Published a few weeks ago is the 2023 Supplement to Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy, coauthored by me and Nicholas Johnson (Fordham), George Mocsary (Wyoming, Director of the Firearms Research Center), Gregory Wallace (Campbell), and Donald Kilmer (Lincoln). In 330 pages, the supplement brings you up to date on the legal developments on the right to arms in 2022 and 2023.
The third edition of that textbook was published in late 2021. At 1,400 pages and $275, it’s a bargain when calculated on cost per word. But the supplement is absolutely free, even if you didn’t buy the main textbook.
Of course, the supplement examines in depth the U.S. Supreme Court’s monumental Bruen decision from June 2022. That case affirmed the right to bear arms in public for lawful self-defense. More broadly, Bruen instructed lower courts to decide Second Amendment cases the way that Court had decided District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008: based on the original meaning of the Second Amendment, rather than on judges’ personal evaluations of the costs and benefits of gun control. The 2023 Supplement catalogues the profusion of cases challenging many different laws on the ground that they are contrary to the Second Amendment’s original meaning.
Although Firearms Law and the Second Amendment and its 2023 Supplement were created for use in advanced law school courses, they are also a treatise meant to be useful to courts, practitioners, and interested laypersons. That is why the textbook has been cited in five U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinions (including by then-Judge Kavanaugh), by the Illinois Supreme Court, and five other cases from lower courts. The textbook has been cited in 91 briefs in the Westlaw database, including by Everytown for Gun Safety, and twice this August in United States government briefs in the Circuit Courts of Appeals.
Among the many topics in the 2023 Supplement are firearm bans aimed at young adults; various categories of prohibited persons under federal law (such as marijuana users); new federal ATF regulations against pistol braces and other devices; the incompetently-drafted 2022 congressional Bipartisan Safer Communities Act; litigation of some state governments’ “massive resistance” to accepting the right to licensed concealed carry; and international developments in Canada and elsewhere.
Starting with the first edition of Firearms Law in 2012, the textbook has been a cyclopedia of the legal history of the right to arms, including the broader social and technological context. That continues with the 2023 Supplement; the final section of the supplement is a detailed explanation of the evolution of firearms technology: in particular, how the kinds of guns—such as breechloading repeaters—that in the 1500s were only available to people like King Henry VIII became affordable for the 1800s to the average American.
As Dr. Seuss observed, “The more that you read the more things you will know.” So if you want to know more things, I invite you to read the 2023 Supplement to Firearms Law and the Second Amendment.
[This post will be cross-posted at the Firearms Research Center Forum, the weblog of the University of Wyoming’s new Firearms Research Center. I am a Senior Fellow at the Center. Contributors to the FRC Forum include “pro-gun” writers, such as me, and also gun control advocates such as law professors Dru Stevenson (South Texas) and Megan Walsh (Minnesota).]