What does the Constitution’s Second Amendment – “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” – really mean? Does it give individuals the right to own and carry guns? Or rather, does it mean that Americans as a people have the right to form armies and use firearms to protect their country?
The issue has been debated for decades, even by the Supreme Court*, challenging third-year law student Patrick Charles to put his own legal mind to work. He turned his research into an 82-page essay and entered it in the competition for the $10,000 Judge John R. Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing, sponsored by the scholarship foundation of the same name in Houston, TX.
Hundreds of students from top law schools around the country entered their own essays, but only Patrick won the prize. His paper, "Bearing Arms in the Ohio Constitution: A Historical and Legal Analysis of Article I Section 4," was the judges’ unanimous choice.
In addition to the award, Patrick is now officially an author. He expanded his essay into a book, Founding Guns: The Second Amendment, the Supreme Court and Understanding the Right to Bear Arms in State Constitutions, which will be published by McFarland Publishing next spring.
Patrick is in his third year at CSU’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and holds a degree in history and international affairs from George Washington University. He hails from South Bend, IN.
(* The Supreme Court ruled several weeks ago that the right to bear arms is an individual right, but barely, by a 5-4 decision.)
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