Before the U.S. Supreme Court in Castillo v. U.S. (2000)

“Stephen Halbrook is an attorney with extensive knowledge of the historical underpinnings of the Second Amendment and practical knowledge of litigating in this rapidly evolving area of law. His writings include topics as diverse as Gun Control in the Third Reich and The Founders’ Second Amendment, and he was heavily involved in Heller and McDonald.”

– U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan
Shepard v. Madigan, 2014 WL 4825592, *7 (S.D. Ill. 2014)

Supreme Court Practice

Comments on ATF Regulation Proposals

Practice Areas

Gun Control Act/National Firearms Act

  • Firearm technical classifications
  • ATF regulatory compliance
  • FFL warning conferences, license denials,
    and revocations
  • Forfeitures
  • Legal disabilities and restoration of civil rights
  • Criminal defense

State and Local Laws

  • “Assault weapon” restrictions
  • Legal status of firearms
  • Challenging restrictions

Civil and Criminal Cases Litigated >>

Books

Congressional Testimony

Scholarly Articles

Op-Eds & Short Articles

TV Appearances

Presentations

2nd Amendment Redux in Supreme Court – Future of Freedom Foundation (Sept. 2021)

Discussing The Right to Bear Arms – The Ben Shapiro Show (June 2021)

View More Presentations >>

Instagram Updates

"New York has received support from an unlikely so "New York has received support from an unlikely source in defense of its restrictive public carry laws in the form of an amicus brief filed in NYSRPA v. Bruen, the Supreme Court case that will decide whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. The brief was submitted on behalf of several signatories, but most noteworthy is its headliner—J. Michael Luttig, the former Fourth Circuit judge who reportedly was on the shortlist for nomination to a Supreme Court seat during the George W. Bush administration. The brief does not live up to the standards one would expect from Judge Luttig."

"First and foremost, while claiming to take a "textualist" approach (at 7), the brief fails to confront the Second Amendment's clear statement that the right of "the people" to "bear" arms shall not be infringed. New York absolutely criminalizes the bearing of arms openly and issues licenses to carry arms concealed only to a selected few who the state deems to have "proper cause." Instead of bearing arms being the rule while carving out exceptions (such as for courthouses and legislatures), the brief argues that the right is not infringed because narrow exceptions are made for hunting and target practice (at 6). But that ignores that "self-defense … was the central component of the right itself," Heller, 554 U.S. at 599."
"The brief's shortcomings are conspicuous in its engagement with history. . . ."
To read my full blog post, go to:  https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/14/a-surprise-amicus-brief-in-the-challenge-to-new-yorks-gun-carry-ban/

This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments
made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhcon

"New York has received support from an unlikely source in defense of its restrictive public carry laws in the form of an amicus brief filed in NYSRPA v. Bruen, the Supreme Court case that will decide whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. The brief was submitted on behalf of several signatories, but most noteworthy is its headliner—J. Michael Luttig, the former Fourth Circuit judge who reportedly was on the shortlist for nomination to a Supreme Court seat during the George W. Bush administration. The brief does not live up to the standards one would expect from Judge Luttig."

"First and foremost, while claiming to take a "textualist" approach (at 7), the brief fails to confront the Second Amendment's clear statement that the right of "the people" to "bear" arms shall not be infringed. New York absolutely criminalizes the bearing of arms openly and issues licenses to carry arms concealed only to a selected few who the state deems to have "proper cause." Instead of bearing arms being the rule while carving out exceptions (such as for courthouses and legislatures), the brief argues that the right is not infringed because narrow exceptions are made for hunting and target practice (at 6). But that ignores that "self-defense … was the central component of the right itself," Heller, 554 U.S. at 599."
"The brief's shortcomings are conspicuous in its engagement with history. . . ."
To read my full blog post, go to:  https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/14/a-surprise-amicus-brief-in-the-challenge-to-new-yorks-gun-carry-ban/

This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments
made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhcon
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Under the Massachusetts Model (1836), "citizens g Under the Massachusetts Model (1836), "citizens generally were free to carry. Only those who abused that right and caused a reasonable fear of harm could, upon complaint and absent good cause, be required to post what today would be called a peace bond—and even they could continue to carry. New York's law essentially reverses the Massachusetts Model, requiring a person to show good cause before being allowed to carry, and, unlike under the Massachusetts law, a person who fails to do so is barred from carrying entirely."

To read my full blog post, go to: https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/13/new-yorks-futile-search-for-historical-precedents-for-its-handgun-carry-restrictions/

This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhconspiracy #volokhconspiracy #nysrpavbruen #naaga #therighttobeararms #rtkba #rtba #righttobeararms #righttokeepandbeararms #2ndamendment #righttocarry #righttocarryarms #concealedcarry #guncontrol #2ahistory #2a  #secondamendment #constitutionalright #therightofthepeople #shallnotbeinfringed #2acase #nysrpa #firearmslaws #2ndamendmentrights #2arightsforall #massachusettsmodelstatute #antebellumamerica #slavecodes #blackcodes

Under the Massachusetts Model (1836), "citizens generally were free to carry. Only those who abused that right and caused a reasonable fear of harm could, upon complaint and absent good cause, be required to post what today would be called a peace bond—and even they could continue to carry. New York's law essentially reverses the Massachusetts Model, requiring a person to show good cause before being allowed to carry, and, unlike under the Massachusetts law, a person who fails to do so is barred from carrying entirely."

To read my full blog post, go to: https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/13/new-yorks-futile-search-for-historical-precedents-for-its-handgun-carry-restrictions/

This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhconspiracy #volokhconspiracy #nysrpavbruen #naaga #therighttobeararms #rtkba #rtba #righttobeararms #righttokeepandbeararms #2ndamendment #righttocarry #righttocarryarms #concealedcarry #guncontrol #2ahistory #2a  #secondamendment #constitutionalright #therightofthepeople #shallnotbeinfringed #2acase #nysrpa #firearmslaws #2ndamendmentrights #2arightsforall #massachusettsmodelstatute #antebellumamerica #slavecodes #blackcodes
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It "will not do for opponents of robust Second Ame It "will not do for opponents of robust Second Amendment protections to draw a one-to-one correspondence from restrictions on the right in England to the scope of the right in America. Yet that is what New York and its amici seek to do in their reliance on the 14th Century Statute of Northampton, enacted in 1328, during the reign of Edward III. Not even in England, however, was the Statute of Northampton the broad prohibition on carry that New York says it was, and it certainly was not understood to be so in Founding-era America."

"The Statute of Northampton forbade any person to come before the King's justices or ministers 'with force and arms,' 'nor bring no force in affray of the peace, nor to go nor ride armed' in fairs, markets, before the justices and ministers, 'nor in no part elsewhere ….'  2 Edw. III c. 3 (1328).  New York reads this archaic language as a prohibition on carrying arms in public places, even if done so peaceably, and contends that it was handed down as the kind of 'reasonable regulation' that was acceptable when the Second Amendment was ratified."

To read my full blog post, go to:  https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/12/does-a-medieval-english-statute-supersede-the-second-amendment/

This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhconspiracy #volokhconspiracy #nysrpavbruen #naaga #therighttobeararms #rtkba #rtba #righttobeararms #righttokeepandbeararms #2ndamendment #righttocarry #righttocarryarms #concealedcarry #guncontrol #2ahistory #2a #secondamendment #constitutionalright #therightofthepeople #shallnotbeinfringed #2acase #nysrpa #firearmslaws #2ndamendmentrights #2arightsforall

It "will not do for opponents of robust Second Amendment protections to draw a one-to-one correspondence from restrictions on the right in England to the scope of the right in America. Yet that is what New York and its amici seek to do in their reliance on the 14th Century Statute of Northampton, enacted in 1328, during the reign of Edward III. Not even in England, however, was the Statute of Northampton the broad prohibition on carry that New York says it was, and it certainly was not understood to be so in Founding-era America."

"The Statute of Northampton forbade any person to come before the King's justices or ministers 'with force and arms,' 'nor bring no force in affray of the peace, nor to go nor ride armed' in fairs, markets, before the justices and ministers, 'nor in no part elsewhere ….'  2 Edw. III c. 3 (1328).  New York reads this archaic language as a prohibition on carrying arms in public places, even if done so peaceably, and contends that it was handed down as the kind of 'reasonable regulation' that was acceptable when the Second Amendment was ratified."

To read my full blog post, go to:  https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/12/does-a-medieval-english-statute-supersede-the-second-amendment/

This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhconspiracy #volokhconspiracy #nysrpavbruen #naaga #therighttobeararms #rtkba #rtba #righttobeararms #righttokeepandbeararms #2ndamendment #righttocarry #righttocarryarms #concealedcarry #guncontrol #2ahistory #2a #secondamendment #constitutionalright #therightofthepeople #shallnotbeinfringed #2acase #nysrpa #firearmslaws #2ndamendmentrights #2arightsforall
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This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspi This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.

From yesterday's post:  "I will begin by emphasizing the overwhelming evidence that during the Founding generation the carrying of firearms in public was a common and unremarkable practice. This evidence is impossible to square with the argument that public carry was heavily restricted and in most cases criminal at the Founding, and it therefore casts serious doubt on New York's arguments to the contrary before the details of those arguments are even assessed."

To read my full blog post, go to:  https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/11/dont-know-much-about-history-2/#more-8134311
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhconspiracy #volokhconspiracy #nysrpavbruen #naaga #rtkba #rtba #righttobeararms #righttokeepandbeararms #2ndamendment #righttocarry  #concealedcarry #guncontrol #scotus #2ahistory #2a #secondamendment #therightofthepeople #shallnotbeinfringed #2acase #nysrpa #firearmslaws #2ndamendmentrights  #dredscottcase #foundingfathers

This week I am guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy [reason.com/volokh/] about the historical arguments made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.

From yesterday's post:  "I will begin by emphasizing the overwhelming evidence that during the Founding generation the carrying of firearms in public was a common and unremarkable practice. This evidence is impossible to square with the argument that public carry was heavily restricted and in most cases criminal at the Founding, and it therefore casts serious doubt on New York's arguments to the contrary before the details of those arguments are even assessed."

To read my full blog post, go to:  https://reason.com/volokh/2021/10/11/dont-know-much-about-history-2/#more-8134311
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#stephenhalbrook #thevolokhconspiracy #volokhconspiracy #nysrpavbruen #naaga #rtkba #rtba #righttobeararms #righttokeepandbeararms #2ndamendment #righttocarry #concealedcarry #guncontrol #scotus #2ahistory #2a #secondamendment #therightofthepeople #shallnotbeinfringed #2acase #nysrpa #firearmslaws #2ndamendmentrights #dredscottcase #foundingfathers
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REMINDER:  Next Monday, October 18, 2021, is the REMINDER:  Next Monday, October 18, 2021, is the 2nd Annual Firearms Law in Virginia Seminar, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  You can attend by live webcast or live telephone.  I will be one of the speakers. CLE credit is available.  For more information and to register, go to:  https://www.vacle.org/product.aspx?zpid=7370&zskuid=28228

Informational summary: "While the U.S. Supreme Court has finally recognized that the Second Amendment means what it says—'the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed'—literally thousands of federal, state, and local firearm restrictions are on the books. Explore the ramifications of these 'sacred' rights, at both the federal and state levels. Featuring an outstanding faculty, this seminar is intended to equip the practitioner with the ammunition needed to represent clients facing gun charges with creativity and competence."

Course schedule:

Virginia’s Constitutional Right to Bear Arms - Justice Steve R. McCullough, Virginia Supreme Court

Overview of Virginia Firearms Laws (New and Existing) - Judge Richard E. Gardiner, Fairfax County Circuit Court

Gun Trusts - Matthew J. Bergstrom, Arsenal Attorneys

Federal Firearms Laws - James P. Vann, Associate Chief Counsel, ATF

Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense - Peter D. Greenspun, Greenspun Shapiro PC

Ethics: The Lawyer as Advocate - Stephen P. Halbrook, Attorney and Author of Firearms Law Deskbook
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#vacle #virginiacle #vafirearms #virginiafirearms #firearmsinvirginia #constitutionallaw #firearmslaws #2a #2ndamendment #rtkba #righttobeararms #stephenhalbrook #continuinglegaleducation #gunlaws #secondamendment #2acases #lawsymposium #legalethics #valaws #virginiagunlaws #federalfirearmslaws #guntrusts #federalfirearmslaws #deadlyforce #selfdefense #attorneyethics #lawyerethics #righttokeepandbeararms #firearmslegaleducation #firearmslaw

REMINDER:  Next Monday, October 18, 2021, is the 2nd Annual Firearms Law in Virginia Seminar, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  You can attend by live webcast or live telephone.  I will be one of the speakers. CLE credit is available.  For more information and to register, go to:  https://www.vacle.org/product.aspx?zpid=7370&zskuid=28228

Informational summary: "While the U.S. Supreme Court has finally recognized that the Second Amendment means what it says—'the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed'—literally thousands of federal, state, and local firearm restrictions are on the books. Explore the ramifications of these 'sacred' rights, at both the federal and state levels. Featuring an outstanding faculty, this seminar is intended to equip the practitioner with the ammunition needed to represent clients facing gun charges with creativity and competence."

Course schedule:

Virginia’s Constitutional Right to Bear Arms - Justice Steve R. McCullough, Virginia Supreme Court

Overview of Virginia Firearms Laws (New and Existing) - Judge Richard E. Gardiner, Fairfax County Circuit Court

Gun Trusts - Matthew J. Bergstrom, Arsenal Attorneys

Federal Firearms Laws - James P. Vann, Associate Chief Counsel, ATF

Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense - Peter D. Greenspun, Greenspun Shapiro PC

Ethics: The Lawyer as Advocate - Stephen P. Halbrook, Attorney and Author of Firearms Law Deskbook
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#vacle #virginiacle #vafirearms #virginiafirearms #firearmsinvirginia #constitutionallaw #firearmslaws #2a #2ndamendment #rtkba #righttobeararms #stephenhalbrook #continuinglegaleducation #gunlaws #secondamendment #2acases #lawsymposium #legalethics #valaws #virginiagunlaws #federalfirearmslaws #guntrusts #federalfirearmslaws #deadlyforce #selfdefense #attorneyethics #lawyerethics #righttokeepandbeararms #firearmslegaleducation #firearmslaw
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"The spirit of resistance to government is so valu "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the Atmosphere." -- Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, letter dated February 22, 1787.
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#thomasjefferson #abigailadams #presidentjefferson #3rdpresident #thomasjeffersonquote #thomasjeffersonquotes #liberty #tyranny #freedom #americanquotes #tyrannicalgovernment #americanliberty #downwithtyrants #libertyisfreedom #questionauthority #humanrights #libertynottyranny #foundingfather #foundingfathers #foundingfathers #uspresidents #ushistory #americanhistory #foundingfathersquote #greatmeninhistory #freedomwarning #patriot #spiritofresistance #resistthegovernment #alittlerebellion

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the Atmosphere." -- Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, letter dated February 22, 1787.
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#thomasjefferson #abigailadams #presidentjefferson #3rdpresident #thomasjeffersonquote #thomasjeffersonquotes #liberty #tyranny #freedom #americanquotes #tyrannicalgovernment #americanliberty #downwithtyrants #libertyisfreedom #questionauthority #humanrights #libertynottyranny #foundingfather #foundingfathers #foundingfathers #uspresidents #ushistory #americanhistory #foundingfathersquote #greatmeninhistory #freedomwarning #patriot #spiritofresistance #resistthegovernment #alittlerebellion
...

"Neither the armistice nor the Hague Convention ex "Neither the armistice nor the Hague Convention explicitly authorized the death penalty for civilians in mere possession of firearms, although both gave great latitude to the authority of the occupying power.  Disarming a conquered population for the security of the occupier might be justified under the traditional laws of war, but executing gun owners not acting as francs-tireurs (combatants without uniforms) would be hard to justify."  On June 22, 1940, France signed an armistice with Germany.  Five days later, the French newspaper, Le Matin, "published the decree threatening execution of anyone who failed to surrender all firearms within twenty-four hours, some six weeks after its original issuance."  

To read more, including the full decree from the German Army High Command, see Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, p. 59.
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#wehrmacht #guncontrol #nazigermany #disarm #weaponssearch #naziguncontrol #francehistory #nazioccupiedfrance #righttobeararms #gunregistration #guncontrolinnazioccupiedfrance #weaponsconfiscation #decreeofMay101940 #1940history #explosivesban #firearmsban #munitions #handgrendades #europeanhistory #wwIIhistory #ww2history #firearms #hitlerhistory #lematin #turninyourweapons #hagueconvention #armistice #possessionofarms #francewwii

"Neither the armistice nor the Hague Convention explicitly authorized the death penalty for civilians in mere possession of firearms, although both gave great latitude to the authority of the occupying power.  Disarming a conquered population for the security of the occupier might be justified under the traditional laws of war, but executing gun owners not acting as francs-tireurs (combatants without uniforms) would be hard to justify."  On June 22, 1940, France signed an armistice with Germany.  Five days later, the French newspaper, Le Matin, "published the decree threatening execution of anyone who failed to surrender all firearms within twenty-four hours, some six weeks after its original issuance."  

To read more, including the full decree from the German Army High Command, see Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, p. 59.
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#wehrmacht #guncontrol #nazigermany #disarm #weaponssearch #naziguncontrol #francehistory #nazioccupiedfrance #righttobeararms #gunregistration #guncontrolinnazioccupiedfrance #weaponsconfiscation #decreeofMay101940 #1940history #explosivesban #firearmsban #munitions #handgrendades #europeanhistory #wwIIhistory #ww2history #firearms #hitlerhistory #lematin #turninyourweapons #hagueconvention #armistice #possessionofarms #francewwii
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Cesare Beccaria, the father of penal reform, beli Cesare Beccaria, the father of penal reform, believed "it was unreasonable to punish one for mere possession of an inanimate object, particularly an arm which the law-abiding individual could use for self-defense.  One who would disobey laws against murder would surely disobey laws against carrying arms, and murder could be committed more easily if the victim obeyed the latter proscription.  In sum, Beccaria argues that laws against carrying arms belong in the dark ages of penology, along with the rack and the screw, while personal liberty and an enlightened approach to crime and punishment necessitate recognition of the right to keep and carry arms."  From That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, p. 35.
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#cesarebeccaria #beccaria #oncrimesandpunishments #2a #2ndamendment #rtkba #righttobeararms #armedpopulace #armed #armedcitizen #welldisciplined #keepandbeararms #selfdefense #thateverymanbearmed #2ahistory #greatitalians #gunrights #gunlaws #secondamendment #criminallaw #criminalminds #penalreform #gunpossession #naturalrights #liberty #firearmlaws #penology #rtba #carryagun #italiancriminologist

Cesare Beccaria, the father of penal reform, believed "it was unreasonable to punish one for mere possession of an inanimate object, particularly an arm which the law-abiding individual could use for self-defense.  One who would disobey laws against murder would surely disobey laws against carrying arms, and murder could be committed more easily if the victim obeyed the latter proscription.  In sum, Beccaria argues that laws against carrying arms belong in the dark ages of penology, along with the rack and the screw, while personal liberty and an enlightened approach to crime and punishment necessitate recognition of the right to keep and carry arms."  From That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, p. 35.
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#cesarebeccaria #beccaria #oncrimesandpunishments #2a #2ndamendment #rtkba #righttobeararms #armedpopulace #armed #armedcitizen #welldisciplined #keepandbeararms #selfdefense #thateverymanbearmed #2ahistory #greatitalians #gunrights #gunlaws #secondamendment #criminallaw #criminalminds #penalreform #gunpossession #naturalrights #liberty #firearmlaws #penology #rtba #carryagun #italiancriminologist
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Marathon & Triathlon Photos

Reykjavík Half-Marathon, 2019
Reykjavík, Iceland

Jungfrau Marathon, 2004
Jungfrau, Switzerland

Marine Corps Marathon
Washington, D.C.

Alcatraz Triathlon, 2001
San Francisco, California

Berlin Marathon, 2019
Berlin, Germany

Berlin Marathon, 2017
Berlin, Germany