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Legal History of “Dangerous and Unusual Weapons.”

While politics and legal analysis often go hand in hand, often the legal side can transcend daily politics. The Social Science Research Network is currently hosting a short, but fascinating analysis of the legal term “dangerous or unusual weapons” which has long been a term in the United States used to justify the restriction or outright ban of various classes of weapons.

The analysis suggests that even the courts Heller decision (lauded by proponents of the 2nd Amendment) may actually be too restrictive compared to the historical basis by which it rested its opinion.

Its a fun read, especially for those who enjoy legal reasoning. You can pick up the full text here.


The phrase “dangerous or unusual weapons” has long been used by American courts to justify prohibiting possession or carrying of particular classes of weapons. Examination of the history of this phrase shows it was neither as ancient nor as broadly prohibitive as many assume. Analogies to First Amendment case law suggest that the authority of the government may be more limited than D.C. v. Heller (2008) indicates.

This article was originally published at The Firearm Blog.