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Prominent Second Amendment Attorney Alan Gura Discusses the Right to Bear Arms

February 11, 2013

Alan Gura, lead counsel in the landmark Second Amendment U.S. Supreme Court cases District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago reflected on Second Amendment jurisprudence in a presentation at the law school on Feb. 11.

The court in the Heller and McDonald confirmed that the Second Amendment affords individuals the right to bear arms for a commonly used lawful purpose such as self defense, Gura said. He explained that Second Amendment issues should be examined in the same light as any other constitutional issues, such as First Amendment free speech issues.  The question isn't whether the reason for codifying a constitutional right remains relevant, he said, but if the right exists.  Unless the Constitution is amended, you must enforce it, he said.  Rulings in the Heller and McDonald cases affirmed that courts must objectively examine laws that affect the common uses of firearms.  If guns have common valid uses, such as to defend one's self, then the right must be protected, Gura said.   

Gura also urged the students that, as future lawyers, they must separate political and popular culture's views on gun control from legitimate constitutional questions.  The focus must not be whether the right to bear arms is morally or socially acceptable but, instead, whether a constitutional right exists and, if so, whether that right is being violated in some way, Gura concluded. 

The school's Federalist Society hosted the event.