Cal. Litig. 2021, Volume 34, Number 1

Second Amendment: The Dozen Yardsticks for Measuring its Scope

By William Slomanson

William Slomanson is an instructor at the University of San Diego’s University of the Third Age, San Diego State University’s Osher Institute, and professor emeritus, Thomas Jefferson School of Law. He can be reached at

The Problem

There will be 12 functioning, proposed, or allegedly rebuffed benchmarks to choose from, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally drafts its Second Amendment blueprint. The Court’s 2008 precedent confirmed the fundamental nature of the constitutional right to keep guns in the home for self-defense. (District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) 554 U.S. 570 (Heller).) The Court’s 2010 McDonald decision extended Heller to all cities and states — via the selective incorporation of another Bill of Rights provision into the laws of all cities and states. (McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) 561 U.S. 742 (McDonald).) But neither Heller nor McDonald embedded a template for future legal challenges to the nation’s gun regulations.

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