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Aliens With Guns: Equal Protection, Federal Power, and the Second Amendment

61 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2006  

Pratheepan Gulasekaram

Santa Clara University School of Law


The nexus between guns and alienage presents a window through which to assess the competing constitutional values embodied in the Equal Protection Clause, the federal foreign-affairs power, and the Second Amendment. This Article analyzes the application of equal-protection norms and the federal foreign-affairs power on federal and state statutes that restrict the ability of non-citizens to bear arms. Professor Gulasekaram argues that courts should evaluate alienage restrictions at both the state and federal level under a unified analytic framework that would attempt to reconcile both personhood norms, such as equality, and gate-keeping norms vindicated by reliance on federal-power doctrines. As a result, the power of the federal government to legislate with regard to non-citizens would be reduced while concurrently allowing greater flexibility for states and localities.

Keywords: aliens, alienage, gun, firearms, right to bear arms, equal protection, preemption, federal power, federalism, states' rights, citizenship, political function, second amendment

JEL Classification: K30, K39, K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Gulasekaram, Pratheepan, Aliens With Guns: Equal Protection, Federal Power, and the Second Amendment. Iowa Law Review, Vol. 92, p. 891, 2007. Available at SSRN:

Pratheepan Gulasekaram (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States
408.554.4188 (Phone)

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