On Tuesday, April 8, Harvard Law School will host a debate on the constitutional and policy issues surrounding gun ownership. Participants will include HLS Professor Alan Dershowitz; UCLA School of Law Professor Eugene Volokh; and Dennis Henigan, director of the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The debate, which will be moderated by HLS Professor Elena Kagan, will begin at 4 p.m. in the Austin North classroom. It is free and open to the public. [Campus Map | Directions]

The constitutional issues surrounding gun control have become increasingly prominent since October 2001, when Judge William Garwood of the Fifth Circuit, in the case of United States v. Emerson, endorsed the view that the Second Amendment “protects the right of individuals . . . to privately possess and bear their own firearms.” Shortly afterwards, in December 2002, in the case of Silveira v. Lockyer, Federal Judge Stephen Reinhardt reaffirmed the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation of the Second Amendment as guaranteeing “a collective rather than an individual right.”

The panel is co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Target Shooting Club and the Harvard Law School Democrats.

About the participants:

Professor Alan Dershowitz specializes in civil rights and criminal law and often comments on legal and constitutional issues. His recent books include “Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age” (2002) and “Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge” (2002). He is now working on a book on the Declaration of Independence.

Professor Eugene Volokh specializes in free speech law, copyright law, the law of government and religion, and firearms regulation. He has recently written a casebook on the First Amendment and a forthcoming book on academic legal writing. His articles on gun control include “The Commonplace Second Amendment” and “The Amazing Vanishing Second Amendment,” both in the NYU Law Review (1998).

Dennis Henigan has provided pro bono legal representation to victims of gun violence in numerous lawsuits against the gun industry, and has assisted in the legal defense of gun control laws. He has written and spoken extensively on liability and constitutional issues relating to firearms.

Professor Elena Kagan, HLS dean-designate, served as deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Clinton administration. Her recent scholarship focuses primarily on the role of the president of the United States in formulating and influencing federal administrative and regulatory law.