Going Gunless

53 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2019 Last revised: 1 Dec 2022

Date Written: July 13, 2019


Firearm policy in the United States is subject to longstanding political gridlock. Up to now, most of the legal academic literature has focused on the constitutionality of various – or any – regulations regarding firearm possession, sales, or usage. This Article inverts the problem and proposes a system for voluntary registration and certification of nonowners, those who want to waive or renounce their Second Amendment rights as a matter of personal conviction. The proposed system is analogous to both the registration of conscientious objectors during wartime conscriptions, and the newer suicide prevention laws whereby individuals can add their names to a do-not-sell list for firearm dealers – though the proposal made here is broader and more permanent. Voluntary registration, with official certification, would serve three important purposes. First, this would help create social identification markers for the gunless-by-choice movement, something that historically has been missing; formal signals and labels of identification with a movement are necessary for a movement’s success, especially with prohibition or abstinence movements. Second, registration and certification as gunless would be a personal moral commitment marker; all societies provide ways for solemnizing one’s vows and solidifying one’s resolve on serious, lifelong moral decisions. Third, certification allows for a market-signaling effect, useful information that can trigger a beneficial response from the private sector; market responses, in turn, provide useful information about otherwise hotly-debated beliefs, such as whether guns in fact enhance or reduce safety for individuals and public places. This Article develops each of these points and offers a unique, and simple, regulatory and statutory alternative for a new system of registration and certification.

Keywords: guns, 2A, Second Amendment, firearms, signaling, social movements, norms, nonviolence, certification, registration, NICS

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K14, K23

Suggested Citation

Stevenson, Drury D., Going Gunless (July 13, 2019). 86 Brooklyn Law Review 179 (2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3419585. or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3419585

Drury D. Stevenson (Contact Author)

South Texas College of Law Houston ( email )

1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
United States
713-646-1897 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stcl.edu

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