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Professor Jacob Charles Interviewed on "Are Felon Gun Bans Constitutional?" -- Talks on Law

Professor Jacob D. Charles is interviewed on the Talks on Law episode "Are Felon Gun Bans Constitutional?" Professor Charles discusses if it is constitutional to deny felons the right to bear arms.

From Talks on Law:

Is it constitutional to deny felons the right to bear arms? We pose this Second Amendment quandary to Professor Jake Charles of Pepperdine Law School. 

When it comes to excluding felons from the Second Amendment protections, Professor Charles narrows in on a particular phrase within the Amendment as relevant: "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  Within that phrase, "the people," according to legal scholars, may not mean everyone but rather refers to those who are deemed responsible and law-abiding citizens. Under this interpretation, groups can be excluded from Second Amendment protection if they are deemed outside the boundaries of "the people."

Under one such interpretation, the Civic Virtue Theory posits that those who break the law, including felons, have demonstrated a lack of civic responsibility and therefore do not qualify as part of "the people" who have the right to bear arms. This interpretation has been used in the past to uphold laws that bar felons from owning guns. Another interpretation, the Dangerousness Rationale, is also frequently invoked as justification for  restrictions on gun ownership. This principle asserts that Second Amendment privileges can be curtailed for individuals who could potentially pose a threat to public safety.

The landmark Supreme Court decision New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen further complicates the landscape of Second Amendment law. As Professor Charles explains, Bruen demands an analysis of gun laws under the lens of text, history, and tradition. This shift in legal scrutiny has led to a surge in challenges to the constitutionality of felon-in-posession gun laws. Professor Charles unpacks the historical context, Second Amendment analysis, and the changing legal landscape relating to the ability of felons to keep or bear arms.

Jacob D. Charles is a Constitutional Law scholar and a professor at Pepperdine’s Caruso School of Law. 

The interview may be found at Talks on Law