Cover of the book, "To Trust the People With Arms"

New book by leading experts explores Second Amendment history, interpretation

In last year’s pivotal case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the U.S. Supreme Court held that to be valid under the Second Amendment, laws regulating firearms must be consistent with “this Nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation.” That mandate has now created an urgent need for scholarly, accurate, exhaustively-researched, and — above all — trustworthy chronicles of how firearms have been treated under American law since the Second Amendment was ratified. A new book authored by law professors Robert J. Cottrol and Brannon P. Denning is poised to set the standard for other works in this field to meet. Titled, To Trust the People with Arms: The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment, it traces the history of the right to keep and bear arms from the nation’s founding to the present day and is sure to be invaluable for anyone seeking to understand the true story of America’s first freedom.

The book’s authors are both esteemed legal scholars and experts on the Second Amendment.

Prof. Cottrol, the Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and professor of history and sociology at George Washington University, has published extensively on the history of firearms in America. His work was cited in Justice Clarence Thomas’s decisive concurring opinion in McDonald v. Chicago, which dispelled the false claim that the Second Amendment has no application to the actions of states or localities. Justice Thomas, of course, would go on to author the majority opinion in Bruen itself. Prof. Cottrol has in particular brought attention to the complicated and often misunderstood experience of African Americans with firearms and firearm regulation in the United States. This insight is particularly relevant as more and more people of color embrace the Second Amendment, and continue to suffer the ill-effects of overreaching gun control laws, in the present day.

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Brannon P. Denning is the Starnes Professor of Law at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. He co-authored (with Andrew J. McClurg) the 2016 casebook Guns and the Law: Cases, Materials, and Explanation. This reference was specifically aimed at educating law students on firearms regulation, the Second Amendment, and the law of self-defense. Prof. Denning has also published broadly on other constitutional issues, including the Commerce Clause (the source of most federal gun control) and the constitutional amendment process.

To Trust the People with Arms has already received acclaim from diverse voices in today’s gun control debate. Prof. Joyce Lee Malcom, a pioneering Second Amendment scholar and author in her own right, called the book “exactly what we need right now.” She described it as “a scholarly, temperate and reliable guide for judges, lawyers, scholars and students alike,” which provides “the clarification so often lost in passionate arguments over the role of firearms in modern America.” Even Prof. Adam Winkler, often quoted by anti-gun media sources advocating for gun control, acknowledged the authors as “[t]wo of the leading Second Amendment scholars in the nation” who brought “deep expertise to this rich, detailed history of the right to bear arms.”

To Trust the People with Arms: The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment is published by the University Press of Kansas. It is available in hardcover directly from the publisher, as well as from Amazon, or in ebook format wherever fine ebooks are sold.

© 2023 National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. This may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

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