Gun Legislation and the Second Amendment (SC)

Section 1, J-Term 20

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 5/13
Credits: 1

Course Description

Gun regulation and the constitutional rights to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment are topics of extraordinary political and legal controversy in current American society. The optimal approach to gun regulation has become a major issue in recent state and federal elections, with different candidates proposing a variety of potential legislative changes. Meanwhile, this December, the Supreme Court will consider whether New York City’s restrictions on gun owners violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and dozens of amici have filed briefs on both sides of the issue. This course will provide an introduction into these areas of controversy with an emphasis on how lawyers can assist legislators in using data, facts, legislative precedents, and legal doctrine in crafting viable legislative proposals. The first four days of the five-day course will cover the following topics: (1) Data about guns and gun violence; (2) Traditional forms of gun regulation; (3) Modern constitutional doctrine and controversies in the Second Amendment area, with an emphasis on the pending Supreme Court litigation in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. City of New York; and (4) Current innovations in gun regulation. For each day, students will be expected to draft a short component (2-3 pages in length) of a legislative report covering the relevant topic. Thus, for example, the first class will be devoted to data about guns and gun violence, and students will draft a section of a report that covers that topic. The professors will provide potential sources covering each topic, though students are free to rely on other sources in their drafts. The drafts due each day will be evaluated only on a pass/fail basis. Class time will then be spent evaluating such drafts and covering how such components of a legislative report can help to build a case in favor of proposed legislative action. The fifth day of the course will allow students to present drafts of their own hypothetical statutes on gun regulation or deregulation. Class time will include feedback on the substance and style of the hypothetical statute, and students will be permitted to debate the merits and demerits of their draft proposals and the proposals of other students. The final grade will be based on the final written project (80%) and class participation (20%).

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

Final Type (if any): None
Description: None
Final Exam Notes:


Written Work Product
Written Work Product: For each class session, students will be expected to draft a short component (2-3 pages in length) of a legislative report covering the relevant topic. A final written project for the course (due by noon via EXPO on Jan. 31, 2020), should be 10-12 pages in length, and will be hypothetical legislation with accompanying legislative history. That project will be based on the drafts written by students during the class, though obviously students will be free to modify their drafts in light of the feedback they receive during the class. Students seeking to produce legislative proposals lengthier than 10-12 pages may work in teams with the permission of the professors.

Other Work
Students will be required to complete daily readings; to present draft sections of legislative reports and legislative proposals; and to participate in classes.

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: Because the credits in this course count toward the JD Program Professional Skills requirement, JD candidates will be given enrollment priority for this class. Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: Yes
First Day Attendance Required: Yes
Course Notes: The course will be structured as a “skills course” with students drafting hypothetical legislation, and accompanying legislative history, that regulates (or deregulates) some aspect of firearms ownership. Students will be provided models of legislative history and legislation both in the field of gun regulation and in other regulatory areas. The twin goals of the course will be for students (i) to develop the skills associated with proposing a piece of legislation to address a particular aspect of regulation in an area of public controversy, and (ii) to gain an understanding of the legal and policy considerations relevant to gun regulation. Those two goals are intertwined. Because the course is a skills course, the emphasis will be on developing skills at writing legislative proposals, but as the course will demonstrate, legislative work requires significant mastery of the legal and policy arguments that are being advanced in a field.

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: Yes
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
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Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: