The Right To Bear Arms, Minors, and 18-to-20-Year-Olds (and Maybe Even Older):

My right to bear arms article is quite long, so I don’t think I can serialize it on the blog the way I’ve done with some past articles. But I thought I’d blog about a few particularly interesting issues — often ones that are part of the “research agenda” aspect of the article, because my goal is just to identify the some of the key arguments, not to give a definitive answer.

Note that here, as in future posts, I use the scope / burden / reducing danger taxonomy I mention in the Introduction, and discuss at length in Part I of the article. (Short version: Scope arguments for restricting a right, which I think are often quite strong: A restriction might not be covered by the constitutional text, the original meaning of the text, the traditional understanding of the text’s scope, or the background legal principles establishing who is entitled to various rights. Burden arguments for restricting a right, which I also think are often quite strong: A restriction might only slightly interfere with rightholders’ ability to get the benefits that the right secures, and thus might be a burden that doesn’t rise to the level of unconstitutionally “infring[ing]” the right. Reducing danger arguments for restricting a right, which I find troublesome for reasons I discuss at pp. 20-31: A restriction might reduce various dangers (in the case of arms possession, chiefly the dangers of crime and injury) so much that the court concludes that even a substantial burden is justified. This is where talk of intermediate scrutiny or strict scrutiny would normally fit, though, as Part I.C argues, such labels likely obscure more than they reveal.)

So with this, on to my first excerpt: The right to bear arms in self-defense — both under the Second Amendment and under the 40+ state constitutional provisions that secure such a right, often quite expressly — and young people, both under 18 and 18-to-20. I have omitted most of the footnotes; to see them, please look at the full article.