The Second Amendment at a Crossroad With Adam Winkler
By Vanessa Igras, Staff Writer
On Thursday, Nov. 4, the Eisenhower Institute’s Fielding Center, alongside Phi Beta Kappa and the EPACC hosted UCLA Professor of Law, Adam Winkler, for a discussion surrounding the current state of the Second Amendment. Gettysburg College students gathered in the Mara Auditorium on Thursday night to hear Professor Winkler, a specialist in constitutional law, lead this timely conversation.
Although the Second Amendment proved to be a controversial topic in the past decade, the Supreme Court only first significantly delved into interpretations of the Amendment in 2008. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court argued that the Second Amendment is “an individual right.”
According to Winkler, the Heller case was what led the majority of the debate surrounding the Second Amendment as it “left unclear on what limits of the Amendment could be imposed.”
The 2008 Heller Case was “hailed as a triumph of originalism.” As Winkler explains, “originalism does not allow the constitution to evolve with circumstances.” In making this case, Winker argues that Justice Scalia, who pushed for originalism during his time as a Supreme Court Justice, was limiting the influence of the Second Amendment.
Professor Winkler asserts that although Justice Scalia brought in modern concerns to his argument, they did not align with the Justices’ originalist claims. The Second Amendment and its underlying message have changed as our society has progressed and according to Winkler, this change is also seen in technological advances.
Winkler points out that developments in gun technology have great implications for how the Courts interpret “the right to bear arms.” The weapons used at the founding of our nation have vastly evolved to more complex weapons — in acknowledging this, Winkler points out the faults of Justice Scalia’s originalist argument and its inability to be applied to the Second Amendment debate.
Winkler states that such ambiguity provided by the Supreme Court combined with an uptick in mass shootings in the past decade has pushed a successful social movement. Given the energized nature of the moment, Winkler points out that the Court will be getting back into the Second Amendment Debate.
All in all, Winkler concludes that “social movements have changed the perceptions of the Amendment today.” They will continue to have great implications for how the Second Amendment is argued for and against, in and out of the courtroom.