February 19, 2013 Print

Learn About the Right to Self-Defense

In the wake of recent tragedies involving the use of firearms against innocent people, many Americans are pressing for restrictions on the types of weapons and weapon accesories that citizens can own.  Last week one of my favorite websites, Freakonomics.com, published a podcast explaining why fears about guns are probably misplaced and why few of the laws being proposed are likely to have any impact on the problem of criminal gun violence - it's well worth a listen, if you have a half-hour to spare.  

But even beyond the practicality of new gun restrictions, much of the conversation these days - even that from many "gun rights" advocates - avoids serious consideration of the deeper constitutional and philosophical question: to what extent can the government impose laws that make it difficult (or impossible) for citiens to defend themselves?

The right of self-defense is deeply ingrained in the Anglo-American legal tradition, and I wanted to help people understand the history and current application of that right so they will be better equipped to engage in thoughtful conversation about the gun control proposals that are popping up all over the country.  As a result, over the next few weeks I’ll be travelling the state to give educational presentations about the right of self-defense; we currently have stops scheduled for Yakima, Longview, and Tacoma. You can check out our events page to see when I will be in your neighborhood.

My presentation will trace the history of the right of self-defense, with a particular focus on how Americans incorporated the right into both the U.S. Constitution and their state constitutions.  I’ll discuss the most recent court cases from all over the country that have an impact on citizens’ right to use weapons to protect themselves.  And, in closing, I’ll offer a brief overview of the ways in which some current legislative proposals might restrict the right of self-defense and present some thoughts that may help ensure that this vital constitutional right remains secure.  

If you don't live in one of the areas already scheduled for one of these presentations, contact Jessica Bowman at (360)956-3482 or jbowman@myfreedomfoundation.org to see about setting one up for your own community!


David Roland

Director of the Theodore L. Stiles Center for Liberty

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