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State Court Standards of Review for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms


David B. Kopel


Independence Institute; Denver University - Sturm College of Law

Clayton E. Cramer


College of Western Idaho

May 12, 2010

Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 50, pp. 1113-1220, 2010
U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-02

Abstract:     
Cases on the right to arms in state constitutions can provide useful guidance for courts addressing Second Amendment issues. Although some people have claimed that state courts always use a highly deferential version of "reasonableness," this article shows that many courts have employed rigorous standards, including the tools of strict scrutiny, such as overbreadth, narrow tailoring, and less restrictive means. Courts have also used categoricalism (deciding whether something is inside or outside the right) and narrow construction (to prevent criminal laws from conflicting with the right to arms). Even when formally applying "reasonableness," many courts have used reasonableness as a serious, non-deferential standard of review. District of Columbia v. Heller teaches that supine standards of review, such as deferring to the mere invocation of "police power," are inappropriate in Second Amendment interpretation. This article surveys important state cases from the Early Republic to the present, and explains how they may be applied to the Second Amendment.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 108

Keywords: Second Amendment, right to keep and bear arms, state constitutions, standard of review, strict scrutiny, reasonableness

JEL Classification: K14, K19

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Date posted: January 26, 2010 ; Last revised: May 13, 2010

Suggested Citation

Kopel, David B. and Cramer, Clayton E., State Court Standards of Review for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (May 12, 2010). Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 50, pp. 1113-1220, 2010; U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-02. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1542544

Contact Information

David B. Kopel (Contact Author)
Independence Institute ( email )
727 East 16th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)
303-279-4176 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.davekopel.org
Denver University - Sturm College of Law
2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.davekopel.org
Clayton E. Cramer
College of Western Idaho ( email )
5500 East Opportunity Drive
Nampa, ID 83687
United States
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