The Natural Right of Self-Defense: Heller's Lesson to the World

The Syracuse Law Review is putting together a symposium issue on the Heller decision. My article for the symposium examines the implications of Heller's constitutionalization of the natural law right of self-defense.

The article has benefitted from the VC discussion of self-defense in Heller by Orin Kerr, Eugene Volokh, and Jim Lindgren. Due to the symposium's desire for short articles, I was not able to explore all the interesting issues raised by the discussion.

Jim had suggested that the topic would make a good subject for student Notes, and I certainly agree. My Article doesn't come close to exhausting the topic. For example, in the course of research, I found the 1874 treatise "Select American Cases on the Law of Self-Defence." (Available on Google Books.) There is a vast amount of material therein that is worth exploring. Moreover, my string cite (note 15) on American cases describing self-defense as a "natural right" does not even include cases using the term "inherent right" instead.

BTW, I did not steal the title from Jim's suggestion. I already had it in my draft, as a sequel to my BYU J. Pub. L. article "The Human Right of Self-Defense."

In footnote 15, you will find a 1832 Kentucky case which I did find thanks to Jim. As you'll see, I still haven't solved the mystery of how the Kentucky court attributed to Matthew Hale a quote which actually appears to come from Michael Foster. I'll send a free copy of the forthcoming book Supreme Court Gun Cases, vol. 2, to the first person who can provide a definitive solution.