Abstract

Gun rights proponents and gun control advocates have devoted significant energy to framing the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In constitutional discourse, advocates and commentators have referred to the Second Amendment as a "collective, ""civic republican," "individual," and 'fundamental" right. Gun rights advocates have defended the right to keep and bear arms on "law and order" grounds, while gun control proponents have urged regulation based on "public health, " "human rights, " and other concerns. These frames and concepts have significantly influenced how the right to keep and bear arms has been debated, interpreted, and enforced. This Article focuses on two common frames gun rights advocates have used to construct realities, identify grievances, motivate supporters, and ultimately influence the meaning of the Second Amendment. Advocates have framed the right to keep and bear arms as a "civil right" primarily concerned with equality values and opposed to discriminatory treatment of gun owners and gun rights. Gun rights advocates have also developed and deployed a "civil liberty" frame that warns of impending disarmament, loss of liberty, and tyrannical government. Framing the Second Amendment in these discrimination and disarmament terms has deeply affected gun rights discourse, lawmaking, and judicial decisions. The Article focuses on the vocabulary of arms in order to better understand how advocates in gun debates generate and use frames, and how those frames affect the Second Amendment's meaning. Constitutional framing by both gun rights and gun control advocates will significantly influence future debates about the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment.

Document Type

Article

Publication Information

106 Iowa Law Review 229-297 (2020)

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