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Law & Society symposium in Charleston to focus on Second Amendment

Two Duke University law school professors will kick off a Feb. 8 symposium in Charleston that examines the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The conference at the Charleston Music Hall, which includes other law professors, attorneys and a state representative, is hosted by the Charleston Law Review of the Charleston School of Law and the Riley Institute at Furman University.

“There are lots of epithets but not a lot of understanding” about the Second Amendment, write Duke law professors Joseph Blocher and Darrell A.H. Miller in a blog post about their new book on how the Second Amendment can inform policymakers about gun regulation. “There’s lots of shouting but not a lot of listening.  Too often, the Second Amendment is used as a shibboleth, a way of separating ‘us’ from ‘them.’”

Blocher and Miller will present an 8:45 a.m. keynote address, “The Second Amendment as Positive Law,” to share how the amendment can be used to facilitate constructive discussions about gun policy.

“This is exactly the approach that our country needs to be taking these days,” said Ed Bell, president of the Charleston School of Law. “We and the Riley Institute are honored to provide a platform for in-depth, relevant discussions on gun policy and hope this exchange of ideas will lead to better ways to handle the rights and responsibilities of gun ownership.”

Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute at Furman, said he expects a large crowd for the discussion, which is open to the public but requires registration.

“In a time of immense controversy over how we should respond to gun deaths, both from high-profile mass shootings and from lower-profile suicides and homicides, it is critical to come together and examine the constitutional meaning and intent of the Second Amendment,”  Gordon said.

Following the keynote address by Blocher and Miller, three panels of experts and attorneys will address critical issues related to the Second Amendment:

9:45 a.m.: Stare Decisis and True Strength of Second Amendment Doctrine.”  Charleston School of Law Professor Allyson Haynes-Stuart will moderate a panel that includes Dr. Saul Cornell, Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University; Dr. Stephen Halbrook, senior fellow at the Independent Institute; Dr. William Merkel, associate professor at the Charleston School of Law; and Adam Samaha, Milholland Professor of Civil Liberties at New York University School of Law.

11 a.m.: “State and Local Attempts at Gun Control.”  Merkel will moderate a panel that includes Blocher and Miller, as well as Patrick Charles, senior historian at the U.S. Special Operations Command; and David Kopel, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

12:15 p.m.: “Moral and Ethical Representation in the Second Amendment Arena.”  Charleston School of Law Professor Miller Shealy will moderate a panel that includes S.C. Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg; C. Austin Elliot, an attorney with the Kulp Law Firm; Debra Gammons, a distinguished visiting professor at the Charleston School of Law and the president-elect of the Charleston County Bar Association; and Adam Skaggs, chief counsel of the Giffords Law Center.

The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Attorneys who attend can receive Continuing Legal Education credits at no cost. The symposium qualifies for four hours of CLE credits in South Carolina. Registration for the CLE (Course 190655) starts at 8 a.m.

More information about the symposium hosts is available at the Charleston Law Review and the Riley Institute at Furman.

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