Epstein's Follow-Up on Gun Regulation

Gun Regulation, the States and the Second Amendment: Making Sense of Our Twisted Constitutional History
Richard A. Epstein
Ricochet.com
February 1, 2013

The original post that I wrote about the Professors' letter on gun control -- to which I was a signatory -- generated a fair bit of comment, with many readers asking me to explain why I was prepared to sign it. The simple answer is that, with the exception of that one sentence, I thought that the letter rightly and fairly tried to find the middle way through a complex subject in ways that would allow the separation of the constitutional issues from the empirical issues. 

That seems to me to be a help to the overall debate. In a word, I signed the letter because I thought that it was correct, and still think that it is correct on the current state of the law. I realize that there is a risk that anything you sign can be used for wrong purposes, but that is also true of individual letters. In a world of rapid-response journalism, either you take that risk or remain silent. It was only the unintended slip-up that moved me to speak. 

With that issue aside, there were also many questions asking about the distribution of state and federal power in the area of gun regulation. There are so many twists and turns in constitutional law that it is hard to give a clean answer. But the historical progression runs something as follows.

Faculty: 
Richard A. Epstein