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Research Article

Reality Check: The “Assault Weapon” Fantasy and Second Amendment Jurisprudence

From the founding of the Republic until the late twentieth century, rifles and other long guns were not subject to public controversy. At the end of that period, the words “assault weapon” appeared as a derogatory term in efforts to ban semi-automatic rifles. Handguns had previously been the primary target of gun prohibitionists, but the Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that handguns are commonly possessed by law-abiding persons for lawful persons and are thus protected by the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the new book Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, and Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”, The Founders' Second Amendment and Securing Civil Rights, the latter two of which were cited in the the U.S. Supreme Court cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago as well as his earlier Amici Curiae Brief in Heller on behalf of 55 members of the Senate, the Senate President, and 250 members of the House of Representatives. Dr. Halbrook is also the author of the book, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (Independent Institute).

New from Stephen P. Halbrook!
Presents the definitive history of how the Nazi regime used gun control to disarm and repress its enemies and consolidate power. Previous books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust fail even to mention the laws restricting firearms ownership, which rendered Jews, political opponents, and other disfavored groups defenseless.

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