The Natural Right of Self-Defense: Heller's Lesson for the World

18 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2008 Last revised: 21 Apr 2009

See all articles by David B. Kopel

David B. Kopel

Independence Institute; Denver University - Sturm College of Law; Cato Institute

Date Written: April 17, 2009


The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller constitutionalized the right of self-defense, and described self-defense as a natural, inherent right. Analysis of natural law in Heller shows why Justice Stevens' dissent is clearly incorrect, and illuminates a crucial weakness in Justice Breyer's dissent. The constitutional recognition of the natural law right of self-defense has important implications for American law, and for foreign and international law.

Keywords: District of Columbia v. Heller, Second Amendment, self-defense, natural law, inherent right

Suggested Citation

Kopel, David B. and Kopel, David B., The Natural Right of Self-Defense: Heller's Lesson for the World (April 17, 2009). Syracuse Law Review, Vol. 59, 2008, Available at SSRN:

David B. Kopel (Contact Author)

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