The Second Amendment to the US Constitution states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
In 2008, the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v Heller overturned a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C. The Court concluded that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to own handguns in their home. However, the Court also made clear that, like other constitutional rights, the Second Amendment right is “not unlimited.” In fact, the Court stated that its opinion did not cast doubt on other “longstanding prohibitions” on gun ownershp by certain persons and in certain places. Since 2008, courts across the country have found a number of gun safety laws constitutional even after the Heller decision.
Center faculty broadly examine the role of law in gun violence prevention efforts. In addition to Second Amendment cases, Center faculty have analyzed the role of litigation as a public health tool, served as expert witnesses in relevant cases, and filed friend-of-the-court (amicus) briefs.
The vast majority of Second Amendment challenges since Heller have been rejected lower federal and state courts.
“The need for judges to have more access to scientific information and research is long established. Public health researchers must be prepared to help judges and lawmakers. They can also assist courts directly by serving as expert witnesses at trials helping judges navigate complex research.”
– Jon Vernick, Professor and Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research
Select Journal Articles
- Availability of Litigation as a Public Health Tool for Firearm Injury Prevention: Comparison of Guns, Vaccines, and Motor Vehicles
Vernick, JS, Rutkow, L, and Salmon. Am J Public Health. 2007 November; 97(11): 1991–1997.
- Changing the constitutional landscape for firearms: the US Supreme Court's recent Second Amendment decisions.
Vernick JS, Rutkow L, Webster DW, Teret SP. Am J Public Health. 2011 Nov;101(11):2021-6.
- Role of Litigation in Preventing Product-related Injuries
Vernick, JS, Samia Mair, J, Teret, S, Sapsin, JW. Epidemiologic Reviews, Volume 25, Issue 1, 1 August 2003.
- Firearms and health: the right to be armed with accurate information about the Second Amendment.
Vernick JS, Teret SP. Am J Public Health. 1993 Dec;83(12):1773-7.
Briefs and Testimony
- Brief for American Public Health Association, American College of Preventive Medicine, American Trauma Society, and American Association of Suicidology as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioners, District of Columbia v. Heller. 2008 Jan 11: 1-30.
- District of Columbia v. Heller. Appeal. 2015 April 20.