Must Courts Recalibrate Tort Law Governing Firearms in Light of the Second Amendment?

53 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2023

See all articles by Lars Noah

Lars Noah

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: August 11, 2023


The rules governing the scope of liability in cases where firearms cause injuries—some well-established, others fairly novel—help to define the responsibilities of users, owners, and sellers of these popular but dangerous products. As the U.S. Supreme Court has recently expanded an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, some have wondered whether the Second Amendment might operate to limit the reach of these various tort doctrines. Sixty years ago, the Court started to constitutionalize various aspects of state common law, most famously using the First Amendment to limit defamation claims but in other respects as well. A comparable approach to the standards defining liability in the event of firearm injuries, especially now that a purely historical test seems to define the permissible reach of state action intruding on the constitutional rights of self-defense, could upend any number of settled and emerging tort rules. The prospect of granting still further immunity to the defendants in these sorts of cases represents yet another worrisome consequence of the current Court’s relentless drive to elevate the status of a right that it first discovered residing in the Second Amendment less than two decades ago.

Keywords: firearms, tort law, products liability, Second Amendment, constitutional law, public health

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Noah, Lars, Must Courts Recalibrate Tort Law Governing Firearms in Light of the Second Amendment? (August 11, 2023). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 92, No. 2, 2023, Available at SSRN:

Lars Noah (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352-273-0923 (Phone)
352-392-3005 (Fax)


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