Keaton Campbell


Felons are not allowed to possess firearms—yet. New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen is the Supreme Court’s most recent elaboration on the Second Amendment, and the Court enunciated a new constitutional test for firearms regulations. The Supreme Court disclaimed the means-end balancing approach developed by courts in the wake of D.C. v. Heller and replaced it with a test focusing only on the plain text of the Second Amendment and the Nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), the federal felon dispossession statute, fared well under means-end balancing in the decade after Heller. Although the statute is facing a new onslaught of challenges post-Bruen, § 922(g)(1) remains unscathed. Since Bruen, not a single challenge to § 922(g)(1) has succeeded—including as-applied challenges brought by non-violent felons. This Comment contends that a faithful application of Bruen should not necessarily yield this result, and that the historical record supporting § 922(g)(1)’s constitutionality as applied to non-violent felons is not as straightforward as its winning record suggests. Particularly, this Comment argues that courts must at least conduct a historical inquiry, as mandated by Bruen, when facing challenges to § 922(g)(1), and courts cannot cut their analysis short by relying solely on dicta from Heller.

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