POST WRITTEN BY: Marie S. Newman (Director and Professor of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University)
Last weekend’s tragic mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida has refocused the nation’s attention on the issue of guns and gun ownership. The Second Amendment contains only twenty-seven words, and yet it is one of the Constitution’s most-debated provisions, with proponents of unrestricted access to guns looking to it for justification for their position. On the other side, proponents of restrictions on gun ownership point to the history of the Second Amendment and to the context in which it was drafted to support their argument. The Library of Congress’s Constitution of the United States: Analysis and Interpretation (2014) discusses the development of the Second Amendment and its treatment by the courts; the relevant section is on pages 1355-1359 and includes many case annotations. Another useful source, the Interactive Constitution, is published by the National Constitution Center and offers an overview of the Second Amendment as well as the views of two scholars.
The library’s new exhibit, The Battle Over the Second Amendment, curated by Alyson Carney and Ann DiMaio, is located in the Law Library lobby and showcases books and other materials on this contentious issue. Of particular interest is an article published by Dean David Yassky, The Second Amendment: Structure, History, and Constitutional Change, 99 Mich. L. Rev. 588 (2000). We invite you to visit the exhibit; if there is something you would like to check out, please see a member of the Circulation Department staff.