Prof. Joseph Blocher

speaker Prof. Joseph Blocher

After oral argument, it was clear that New York's law was going to be struck down. The only real question was on what basis.

Joseph Blocher's is a leading Second Amendment scholar and a professor of law at Duke Law School. His principal academic interests include federal and state constitutional law, the First and Second Amendments, legal history, and property. He serves as Co-Director of the Center for Firearms Law, and has spoken before Congress and written for the New York TimesWashington PostSlate, Vox, and other public outlets. Prior to Duke, he clerked for Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Rosemary Barkett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He also practiced law at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, where he assisted the merits briefing for the District of Columbia in District of Columbia v. Heller.


Talks by Prof. Joseph Blocher

related talk Gun Rights under Rahimi & Cargill
Gun Rights under Rahimi & Cargill

Professor Joseph Blocher (Second Amendment scholar and co-director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law) explains two significant recent Supreme Court cases: United States v. Rahimi and Garland v. Cargill. This discussion provides an in-depth analysis of the legal reasoning behind these decisions and their broader implications for gun regulation and gun rights in the United States.

In United States v. Rahimi, the central question was whether it is constitutional to restrict gun rights for individuals under domestic violence restraining orders. Professor Blocher explains the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the federal law, 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(8), which bars individuals under certain domestic violence orders from possessing firearms. Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion draws from the historical tradition of firearm regulation, referencing “surety” and “going armed” laws to justify modern restrictions aimed at disarming dangerous individuals. This decision reinforces the Court's commitment to a "text, history, and tradition" approach established in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, despite the lack of a historical twin specifically for domestic violence orders.

In Garland v. Cargill, Professor Blocher breaks down the Supreme Court's reversal of the federal ban on bump stocks, devices that enable semi-automatic firearms to mimic automatic fire rates. The Court's majority opinion, penned by Justice Thomas, hinges on the technical interpretation of what constitutes a "machinegun" under the National Firearms Act of 1934. By emphasizing the requirement that a machinegun must fire multiple rounds with a single function of the trigger, the Court determined that bump stocks, which necessitate the trigger to reset with each shot, do not meet this definition. This decision underscores the limitations of executive agencies in expanding the scope of existing laws through regulatory reinterpretation.

Joseph Blocher is a law professor a Duke Law School.