From Ballots to Bullets: District of Columbia v. Heller and the New Civil Rights

41 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2008 Last revised: 7 Dec 2009

See all articles by Anders Walker

Anders Walker

Saint Louis University - School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2008


This article posits that the Supreme Court's recent Second Amendment ruling District of Columbia v. Heller is a victory for civil rights, but not in the sense that most activists from the 1960s would recognize. Rather than a product of mid-century legal liberalism, Heller marks the culmination of almost forty years of coalition-based popular constitutionalism aimed at transforming the individual right to bear arms and the common law right to "employ deadly force in self-defense" into new civil rights. The implications of this are potentially great. By declaring the right to use deadly force in self-defense an "essential" right, the Court has just positioned itself to use the same due process analysis that it did in Roe v. Wade to invalidate municipal gun bans, without having to overrule past opinions like Cruickshank or even bothering to incorporate the Second Amendment to the states.

Keywords: 2nd amendment, second amendment, gun ban, civil rights, black power, conservativism, legal history, constitutional law, african american history, nra, rights, self-defense, right to bear arms

Suggested Citation

Walker, Anders, From Ballots to Bullets: District of Columbia v. Heller and the New Civil Rights (October 1, 2008). Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 69, p. 509, 2009, Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-02, Available at SSRN:

Anders Walker (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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