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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

How The British Gun Control Program Precipitated The American Revolution, David B. Kopel Jan 2012

How The British Gun Control Program Precipitated The American Revolution, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

Abstract: This Article chronologically reviews the British gun control which precipitated the American Revolution: the 1774 import ban on firearms and gun powder; the 1774-75 confiscations of firearms and gun powder, from individuals and from local governments; and the use of violence to effectuate the confiscations. It was these events which changed a situation of rising political tension into a shooting war. Each of these British abuses provides insights into the scope of the modern Second Amendment.

From the events of 1774-75, we can discern that import restrictions or bans on firearms or ammunition are constitutionally suspect — at least if ...


The Right To Arms In The Living Constitution, David B. Kopel Jan 2010

The Right To Arms In The Living Constitution, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

This Article presents a brief history of the Second Amendment as part of the living Constitution. From the Early Republic through the present, the American public has always understood the Second Amendment as guaranteeing a right to own firearms for self-defense. That view has been in accordance with élite legal opinion, except for a period in part of the twentieth century.

"Living constitutionalism" should be distinguished from "dead constitutionalism." Under the former, courts looks to objective referents of shared public understanding of constitutional values. Examples of objective referents include state constitutions, as well as federal or state laws to protect ...


Dhimmitude And Disarmament, David B. Kopel Jan 2008

Dhimmitude And Disarmament, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

Under shari'a law, non-Muslims, known as dhimmi, have been forbidden to possess arms, and to defend themselves from attacks by Muslims. The disarmament is one aspect of the pervasive civil inferiority of non-Muslims, a status known as dhimmitude. This Essay examines the historical effects of the shari'a disarmament, based on three books by Bat Ye'or, the world's leading scholar of dhimmitude. As Ye'or details, the disarmament had catastrophic consequences, extending far beyond the direct loss of the dhimmi's ability to defend themselves. The essay concludes by observing how pretend gun-free zones on college campuses ...


Self-Defense In Asian Religions, David B. Kopel Jan 2007

Self-Defense In Asian Religions, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

This Article investigates the attitudes of six Far Eastern religions - Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism - towards the legitimacy of the use of force in individual and collective contexts. Self-defense is strongly legitimated in the theory and practice of the major Far Eastern religions. The finding is consistent with natural law theory that some aspects of the human personality, including the self-defense instinct, are inherent in human nature, rather than being entirely determined by culture.


Armed Resistance To The Holocaust, David B. Kopel Jan 2007

Armed Resistance To The Holocaust, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

Contrary to myth of Jewish passivity, many Jews did fight back during the Holocaust. They shut down the extermination camp at Sobibor, rose up in the Warsaw Ghetto, and fought in the woods and swamps all over Eastern Europe. Indeed, Jews resisted at a higher rate than did any other population under Nazi rule. The experience of the Holocaust shows why Jews, and all people of good will, should support the right of potential genocide victims to possess defensive arms, and refutes the notion that violence is necessarily immoral.


Is Resisting Genocide A Human Right?, David B. Kopel, Joanne D. Eisen, Paul Gallant Jan 2006

Is Resisting Genocide A Human Right?, David B. Kopel, Joanne D. Eisen, Paul Gallant

David B Kopel

Closely examining the Darfur, Sudan, genocide, and making reference to other genocides, this Article argues that the genocide prevention strategies which are currently favored by the United Nations are ineffective. This Article details the failures of targeted sanctions, United Nations peacekeepers, and other antigenocide programs. Then, this Article analyzes the Genocide Convention and other sources of international human rights law. Because the very strong language of the Genocide Convention forbids any form of complicity in genocide, and because the Genocide Convention is jus cogens (meaning that it prevails over any conflicting national or international law), this Article concludes that the ...


The Catholic Second Amendment, David B. Kopel Jan 2006

The Catholic Second Amendment, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

At the beginning of the second millennium, there was no separation of church and state, and kings ruled the church. Tyrannicide was considered sinful. By the end of the thirteenth century, however, everything had changed. The Little Renaissance that began in the eleventh century led to a revolution in political and moral philosophy, so that using force to overthrow a tyrannical government became a positive moral duty. The intellectual revolution was an essential step in the evolution of Western political philosophy that eventually led to the American Revolution.


The Scottish And English Religious Roots Of The American Right To Arms: Buchanan, Rutherford, Locke, Sidney, And The Duty To Overthrow Tyranny, David B. Kopel Jan 2005

The Scottish And English Religious Roots Of The American Right To Arms: Buchanan, Rutherford, Locke, Sidney, And The Duty To Overthrow Tyranny, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

Many twenty-first century Americans believe that they have a God-given right to possess arms as a last resort against tyranny. One of the most important sources of that belief is the struggle for freedom of conscience in the United Kingdom during the reigns of Elizabeth I and the Stuarts. A moral right and duty to use force against tyranny was explicated by the Scottish Presbyterians George Buchanan and Samuel Rutherford. The free-thinking English Christians John Locke and Algernon Sidney broadened and deepened the ideas of Buchanan and Rutherford. The result was a sophisticated defense of religious freedom, which was to ...


The Religious Roots Of The American Revolution And The Right To Keep And Bear Arms, David B. Kopel Jan 2005

The Religious Roots Of The American Revolution And The Right To Keep And Bear Arms, David B. Kopel

David B Kopel

This article examines the religious background of the American Revolution. The article details how the particular religious beliefs of the American colonists developed so that the American people eventually came to believe that overthrowing King George and Parliament was a sacred obligation. The religious attitudes which impelled the Americans to armed revolution are an essential component of the American ideology of the right to keep and bear arms.


Human Rights And National Security: The Strategic Correlation, William W. Burke-White Jan 2004

Human Rights And National Security: The Strategic Correlation, William W. Burke-White

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Regionalization Of International Criminal Law Enforcement: A Preliminary Exploration, William W. Burke-White Jan 2003

Regionalization Of International Criminal Law Enforcement: A Preliminary Exploration, William W. Burke-White

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Self-Defense: The Equalizer, David B. Kopel, Linda Gorman Jan 2000

Self-Defense: The Equalizer, David B. Kopel, Linda Gorman

David B Kopel

Experiments in tightening gun-control laws have eroded the right of self defense and failed to stop serious crime. Studies Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.


The Evolving Police Power: Some Observations For A New Century, David B. Kopel, Glenn Harlan Reynolds Jan 2000

The Evolving Police Power: Some Observations For A New Century, David B. Kopel, Glenn Harlan Reynolds

David B Kopel

A review of state and federal courts decisions on the scope of state police powers suggests that the shift from the more restrictive sic utere principle to the more open salus populi principle may be reversing, with courts -- at least in cases involving sex and marriage -- taking a much more skeptical view of government objectives and justifications.


All The Way Down The Slippery Slope: Gun Prohibition In England And Some Lessons For Civil Liberties In America, David B. Kopel, Joseph Olson Jan 1999

All The Way Down The Slippery Slope: Gun Prohibition In England And Some Lessons For Civil Liberties In America, David B. Kopel, Joseph Olson

David B Kopel

Whenever civil liberties issues are contested, proponents of greater restrictions often chide civil liberties defenders for being unwilling to offer moderate concessions. Frequently, persons advocating restrictions on civil liberties claim that the "moderate" restriction will not infringe the core civil liberty. When rights advocates raise the "slippery slope" argument, they are criticized for being excessively fearful. The goal of the article is to refine our understanding of "slippery slopes" by examining a case in which a civil liberty really did slide all the way down the slippery slope.

The right to arms in Great Britain was entirely unrestricted at the ...


Relativism, Reflective Equilibrium, And Justice, Justin Schwartz Jan 1997

Relativism, Reflective Equilibrium, And Justice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

THIS PAPER IS THE CO-WINNER OF THE FRED BERGER PRIZE IN PHILOSOPHY OF LAW FOR THE 1999 AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE BEST PUBLISHED PAPER IN THE PREVIOUS TWO YEARS.

The conflict between liberal legal theory and critical legal studies (CLS) is often framed as a matter of whether there is a theory of justice that the law should embody which all rational people could or must accept. In a divided society, the CLS critique of this view is overwhelming: there is no such justice that can command universal assent. But the liberal critique of CLS, that it degenerates into ...