E. Gregory Wallace*
40 Campbell L. Rev. 299 (2018)
Ten years after the Supreme Court’s landmark but controversial decision in District of Columbia v. Heller,1the constitutional right to keep and bear arms still is largely illusory. Heller held that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, whether against a tyrannical government or common criminal.2While Heller answered certain fundamental questions about the nature and scope of the constitutional right to arms, it gave limited guidance for reviewing gun laws in future cases. Lower federal and state courts since Heller, with few exceptions, have confined the right to keep and bear arms to a constitutional halfway house—bowing to its existence but not seriously enforcing it. They have treated Heller not as precedent to be followed but a decision to be distinguished, narrowed, or avoided before approving almost any legislative restriction on the right to arms.
To commemorate Heller’s tenth anniversary, Campbell Law Review brought together outstanding scholars and litigators from across the nation to discuss Heller, its historical footing, and how lower courts have applied it to a wide range of gun laws. The symposium examined various issues facing lower courts since Heller, including the proper analytical framework for deciding Second Amendment cases, the scope of Heller’s recognition of the individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, the extent to which the Second Amendment protects certain persons attempting to restore their right to arms, and how Heller affects restrictions on public carry and bans on “assault weapons.”
We are grateful for the thoughtful remarks symposium participants contributed to our public discussion of the Second Amendment on this tenth anniversary of Heller. Articles and transcripts of selected panels from the symposium follow this Foreword.