Duke Law's 'Center for Firearms Law' Seeks Balanced Approach

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Balance isn’t something we typically see on guns, particularly out of academia.

The bias throughout the nation, particularly in institutions who have a profound impact on American perceptions, tends to skew hard and to the left politically, particularly on things like the Second Amendment.


However, Duke Center for Firearms Law is claiming to seek to do just that.

The Duke Center for Firearms Law is searching for a scholarly alternative to the politically-charged national debate surrounding gun rights and regulation.

Joseph Blocher, Lanty L. Smith ’67 professor of law, and Darrell Miller, the Melvin G. Shimm professor of law, created the Center to advance non-partisan scholarship about the Second Amendment. The two co-directors are joined by Jake Charles, Law ’13, as the Center’s executive director.

Blocher said there is a lack of reliable scholarship on the Second Amendment and the constitutional questions it raises. These legal questions are especially important after the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right to bear arms for individual’s private purposes, including self-defense.

“I think that there’s not enough attention paid in the scholarly community to this really important and complex and interesting and nuanced set of questions,” he said.

The Center for Firearms Law is the first of its kind, focused on building firearms law as a “distinct area of scholarship in law schools,” Charles said.

Compared to the First and Fourteenth Amendments, Blocher said, the Second Amendment is seriously lacking in scholarship.

Of course, now the question becomes whether or not this is sincere or whether it’s just cosplaying for anti-gun sentiments. Time will ultimately tell us the tale on that one.

That said, I’m willing to take them at face value for the time being.


If so, though, what may well happen is that after they delve into the scholarship, we may soon find them described as anti-gun or pro-gun simply by nature of what they put out. The truth is, something like the Second Amendment is a touchy subject and any defense of either side will be used to judge the Center. By both sides, to be honest.

It’ll be especially true if they report what I suspect they’ll report when it comes to the Second Amendment, primarily that it’s not only an individual right by one that shouldn’t be fettered by regulation at the federal, state, or local levels.

But I’m biased.

That said, I think it’s best to take a wait and see approach to this center. For one, who knows if anyone will even listen to anything they have to say on any topic? It might be ignored by pretty much everyone but academia and thus of no importance to any of us.

Still, we should keep a careful eye on this and see what transpires. It may be of use. It may be something we have to combat. It may be nothing. But since so much of what we see on guns ends up as a battleground, it’s best we dig in and be ready.

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