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Publication Citation

74 Tulane Law Review 387 (1999)


Traditionally, populists have claimed the Second Amendment as their particular cultural property; by contrast, outgroups and elites have found the Amendment somewhat culturally alien. Recently, some outgroup members have argued that their groups ought to embrace the Amendment because the right to keep and bear arms can be a valuable way of resisting populist oppression. This Article explores this changing multicultural landscape of the Second Amendment It recognizes that in particular instances and in the short term, outgroups might need to arm themselves against hate violence. It argues, however, that only a consensus culture on the use of violence will provide any real protection to outgroups in the long run. The new outgroup theories of the Amendment frustrate the creation of such a culture because they rest on a constitutional vision of decentralized violence, premised on the inevitability of mutual suspicion and the fundamentality of relating through arms. Such a regime will ultimately benefit populists more than outgroups. In other words, in the long run, these constitutional tales of violence will actually be counterproductive to the goal of outgroup safety that they seek to secure.