Ancient History


Arms and the Greeks. What Plato and Aristotle thought about arms control. Liberty. August 1999.

Ancient Asia

Self-defense in Asian Religions, 2 Liberty Law Review 79 (2007).

Ancient Israel

Ancient Hebrew Militia Law. 90 Denver University Law Review Online 175 (2013).

To Your Tents, O Israel! The history of ancient kingdom of Israel, and how the people created a strong central government for national security, but then found that their own liberties were endangered by that government. And the lessons that the American colonists and Founders drew from Israel's experience. Liberty, April 2007. PDF.

The Feast of Purim. Feb. 26, 1994.

Audacious Judith. The Jewish heroine. MSNBC.com, Dec. 8, 2004.

Armed Jews Week. The Jews who fought the Nazis embodied the spirit of Hanukkah. MSNBC.com, Dec. 10, 2004.

A Rich Tradition. Jewish war lessons. National Review Online. Dec. 5, 2002.

blog: Purim history, 3/14/06.

Roman Republic and Empire

The Founders' Reading of Ancient History. Feb. 2000, Chronicles, pp. 47-48.

Gore as Caligula? At times, Clinton seems like a one-man agglomeration of the vices of the early Roman emperors. National Review Online, May 10, 2000.

Perpetua & Felicity (optional course reading for "Women Writers of the Middle Ages," Medieval Studies 3351/Women's Studies 3001, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1997)

St. Blase.

St. Cecelia

Early to Middle Second Millenium

Middle Ages


God, Man, and Tyrants. John of Salisbury and the Bestselling Book of the Twelfth Century. Liberty. May 2004.

"The Catholic Second Amendment," 29 Hamline Law Review 519 (2006).

Thomas Aquinas.

Saint Hildegund.

The Swiss and Their Guns.  American Rifleman, Feb. 1990. (Entered in full into the Congressional Record by N.H. Rep. Dick Bass.)


Why is this Woman Smiling? Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest painters of all time, also contributed to society something far more valuable than the Mona Lisa--the first self-igniting firearm. America's 1st Freedom, Oct. 2005. With Paul Gallant & Joanne D. Eisen.

Unity in the Virgin. The cultural, historical, and American significance of the Virgin of Guadeloupe. MSNBC.com, Dec. 12, 2004.

Sixteenth Century

We all do extol Thee, Thou leader in Battle. The origins of the Thanksgiving hymn "We Gather Together," and the Dutch War of Independence,Nov. 21, 2012.

Luther and the Christian Duty to Defend Innocents, Volokh.com. Nov. 17, 2005.

God's Carpenter. Minorities targeted for ethnic cleansing. Leaders of persecuted religious sects. Escaped slaves. Outlawed guns. Every age has something to hide, and also brave individuals who risk everything to hide it. Nicholas Owen was one of those brave men. Liberty magazine. March 2004.

Seventeenth Century, World

Virtue in Equivocation. Happy Guy Fawkes Day. National Review Online. Nov. 5, 2001.

"The Scottish and English Religious Roots of the American Right to Arms: Buchanan, Rutherford, Locke, Sidney, and the Duty to Overthrow Tyranny" 12 Bridges 291 (nos. 3/4, Fall/Winter 2005).

The Intelligent Man's Guide to Lying Under Oath. A discussion of Bill Clinton, the persecution of Catholics in 17th century England, the Treatise of Equivocation, and jury independence. Liberty magazine. March 1999.

"It isn't about Duck Hunting: The British Origins of the Right to Arms" (book review) 96 Michigan Law Review 1333 (1995).

Malcolm in the Middle. Falling victim to bogus critics. National Review Online. Sept. 16, 2002. Has Joyce Malcolm's research on the history of English gun rights been "discredited."

Japan: Gun Control and People Control. The American Rifleman, Dec. 1988.

"Japanese Gun Control," 2 Asia-Pacific Law Review 26 (1993).

Bodin, Becarria, and Bastiat. Diverse views on arms and the use of force in society from important philosophers: a French absolutist, the Italian father of criminology, and a French liberal. En italiano.

18th and 19th centuries

United States Founding and Early Republic

The American Revolution against British Gun Control. Administrative and Regulatory Law News (American Bar Association). Vol. 37, no. 4, Summer 2012.

How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution. 38 Charleston Law Review 283 (2012).

 Laws about gun ownership in early America. Volokh.com. Dec. 9, 2011.

Why Yankee Doodle called it “macaroni”. Volokh.com. Nov. 19, 2011.

Federalist 46. "The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared," by James Madison. Kopel examines how well Madison's expectations turned out in practice, and Madison's praise for the American "advantage of being armed." Constituting America, June 30, 2010.

An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen. No precedent for Obamacare. Volokh.com. April 2, 2010.

The Keystone of the Second Amendment: Quakers, the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the Questionable Scholarship of Nathan Kozuskanich. 19 Widener Law Journal 271 (2010). With Clayton Cramer.

The Stamp Act. Volokh.com. March 22, 2010.

Christianity and Early America. Kopel appears on The American View radio program, discussing Calvinism and the American founding. Host John Lofton bemoans America's movement away from its theocratic roots, while Dave applauds the change. Jan. 29, 2009. MP3.

The Catechism of the The Revolution. Jonathan Mayhew, the great Congregationalist preacher from Boston who taught America their duty of resisting tyranny. Liberty, November 2006.

George Mason, 4/1/06.

"The Religious Roots of the American Revolution and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms," 17 Journal on Firearms and Public Policy 167 (2005).

The Catechism of the The Revolution. Jonathan Mayhew, the great Congregationalist preacher from Boston who taught America their duty of resisting tyranny. Liberty, November 2006.

America's Fascination with Firearms. The rigors of the country's frontier led to the proliferation of firearms and a deeply ingrained pro-gun culture. The World & I magazine, Oct. 2003.

Guns of Our Freedom: Celebrate Independence Day with a few rounds. National Review Online. July 1, 2000. In italiano.

Making the Constitution. A five-part series on the Constitutional Convention. National Review Online, Sept. 25-29, 2000. Part I Throwing out the Articles of Confederation. Part II Enter Alexander Hamilton. Part III The battle over representation. Part IV Compromise, slavery, and much debate. Part V Final questions about the new government.

Putting the Federalist Papers in the Classroom--and in the Legislature. KDEN radio commentary. Feb. 19, 1991

Book Reviews: A Nation of Cowards and The Origin of the Second Amendment. Ideas on Liberty. Mar. 2002.

Faith of Our Fathers. Garry Wills translates the Second Amendment into Latin, in order to evade its plain meaning in English. National Review Online. Mar. 16, 2001.

Thomas Jefferson Forever. Celebrates the great Founder, and examines his statements about arms in a free society. Chronicles. July 1999. In italiano.

"Tench Coxe and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the Early Republic," 7 William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 347 (1999). With Stephen Halbrook.

blog: The Marine's Hymn, 4/22/09.

Nineteenth Century, World

Jane Austen & The First Gen Y: Are the dilemmas of young people in 2000 so different from those of 1813? National Review Online. July 11, 2000.

Catherine Laboure (and the Miraculous Medal),

A Moriori Lesson. A brief history of pacifism. National Review Online. Apr. 11, 2003. With Paul Gallant & Joanne D. Eisen.

Bin Laden as Napoleon. A comparison. National Review Online, Nov. 19, 2001.

Why People Club Each Other: Some Irish history, and a word of advice to the government. National Review Online. Aug. 31, 2000.

The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1992). Named 1992 Book of the Year by the American Society of Criminology Division of International. Review by Nicholas Johnson, Public Interest Law Review. Review by the Foreign Military Studies Office, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

Gun Control in Great Britain: Saving Lives or Constricting Liberty? (Chicago: University of Illinois at Chicago, Office of International Criminal Justice, 1992).

Taiwan's Right to UN Membership. The Volokh Conspiracy. Sept. 12, 2006.

Antebellum Nineteenth Century United States

1858 time machine episode of Colorado Inside-Out (2009 Emmy winner).

Dread the Dred Scott Reference. Don’t toss this case around unless you know what you're talking about. National Review Online. Dec. 14, 2000.

Consulting Webster. A statesman for all times. Daniel Webster's famous "Hulsemann Letter" shows how America should respond to bullying from foreign dictatorships. National Review Online. Jan. 3, 2003. With Mike Brotherton.

Don’t Mess with (Armed) Texans. The real lesson of the Alamo. National Review Online. April 8, 2004.

Guns in the Dock. Liberty. Feb. 2003. Examines Nunn v. State and Salina v. Blaksley, two important cases involving the Second Amendment, and their implications for today.

Our Presidents in Song. Campaign songs from George Washington to the present. Chronicles. Nov. 2000.

The Veep's Underwear. A look at some of the nastiest allegations from American presidential elections. National Review Online. Oct. 1, 2000.

Learning from Coltsville. The case for this national-park candidate. National Review Online. Sept. 23, 2002. National Park status for Coltsville, the industrial village created by Samuel Colt. National Review Online. With Michael Brotherton.

Don’t Mess with (Armed) Texans. The real lesson of the Alamo. National Review Online. April 8, 2004.

Religious Fright. The Left is appalled by President Bush’s faith. National Review Online. Mar. 18, 2003. Presidents Jackson and Truman.

Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the American parochial school system.

The Second Amendment in the Nineteenth Century, 1998 BYU Law Review 1359.

Disarming Errors. Book review of Michael Bellesiles' Arming America. National Review, print edition. Oct. 9, 2000. With Clayton Cramer.

A Collaborative Effort. Book review of: The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory, by Robert V. Remini. Chronicles magazine, July 2000.

Star Spangled Banner lyrics, then and now. 5/9/06.

Our Second Amendment: The Original Perspective. St. George Tucker, author of the first American constitutional law treatise. The American Guardian. July 1998.

War Between the States, Reconstruction

Cinco de Mayo: An all-American holiday. Volokh.com. May 7, 2012.

The original meaning of the 14th Amendment regarding interracial marriage. Volokh.com. Dec. 5, 2011.

The Battle Cry of Freedom. Volokh.com. July 6, 2010.

Unknown Hero. The world really can pivot on great men. Book review of The Richmond Campaign of 1862: The Peninsula & Seven Days, Edited by Gary W. Gallagher. National Review Online. Feb. 17-19, 2001.

The Hero of Gettysburg. Winfield Scott Hancock shot straight. National Review Online. July 2, 2004. With Paul Gallant & Joanne D. Eisen.

Rights During War. In 1864, the U.S. Army court-martialed an Indiana civilian and sentenced him to death. What does this case teach us about the Second Amendment and the limits of presidential powers? Liberty. April 2004.

More than Summer Fare. Some history about the 3-day Memorial Day weekend we should all remember. National Review Online. May 26, 2000.

Wisconsin Diversifies. The saga of the Mountaineer. National Review Online. Sept. 5, 2002. University of Wisconsin administrators attempt to prohibit the West Virginia "Mountaineer" mascot from carrying his musket at a football game.

The Klan's Favorite Law: Gun control in the postwar South. Reason.com, Feb. 15, 2005.

Ambrose E. Burnside. General, Governor, Senator, Civil Rights Activist and First President of the NRA. America's 1st Freedom. Nov. 2004. With Paul Gallant & Joanne Eisen. In PDF. (This web version is slightly longer than the text which was printed in the magazine, and is therefore laid out somewhat differently.)

blog: P.C. police take aim at "Maryland, My Maryland," 3/11/02.

Check the Footnotes. Skip Bellesiles. Read Halbrook. NRO Weekend, January 13-14, 2001. With Clayton Cramer. Book review of Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876, by Stephen P. Halbrook (Praeger, 1998, 248 pp., $57.75).

United States, 1877-1899

A reliable book about 1877. Volokh.com. May 12, 2010.

Chester Alan Arthur: The Barack Obama of the 19th Century. The Volokh Conspiracy. Sept. 2, 2009.

Constitution Prohibits Deals with Transportation Companies. The United Airlines welfare plan. June 1991.

"The Posse Comitatus Act: Venerable Safeguard—Or Old Hat?" Cato Institute Policy Forum. Oct. 16, 2002. Dave Kopel, Stephen Halbrook, and Paul Schott Stevens. Moderated by Rep. Bob Barr. Available in RealVideo and RealAudio.

Presser v. Illinois. Analysis of the 1886 case.

"Miller versus Texas: Police Violence, Race Relations, Capital Punishment, and Gun-toting in Texas in the Nineteenth Century—and Today." 9 Journal of Law and Policy 737 (2001). With Cynthia Leonardatos and Stephen P. Halbrook.

"The Self-Defense Cases: How the Supreme Court Confronted a Hanging Judge in the Nineteenth Century," 27 American Journal of Criminal Law 294 (2000).

"The Evolving Police Power: Some Observations for a New Century," with Glenn Harlan Reynolds. 27 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 511 (2000). Analyzes recent state court decisions striking down anti-sodomy laws, and suggests that courts in the 21st century—like courts in the 19th century—may increasingly recognize that the police power is not infinite. Also available in Word format.

20th century

World, 20th century, pre-WW II

1935 time machine episode of Colorado Inside-Out. Kopel plays law professor Israel Ben Koplowitz, a Democratic critic of the New Deal.

1927 time machine episode of Colorado Inside-Out. (2008 Emmy nominee).

blog: Jewish Boxing, Fencing, and Self-Defense. 9/4/06.

Bertilla Boscardin

Maria Goretti.

Sergeant York. Great Hero of the Great War. America's 1st Freedom, Feb. 2005. PDF.

blog: Kristallnacht and Arms Control, 11/9/05.

United States 20th century

Evolving Christian Attitudes Towards Personal and National Self-defense. 45 Connecticut Law Review 1709 (2013). Analyzes changes in Christian thought about the use of force, from the 19th to the 21st century. PDF.

Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling, and Guns: The Synergistic Constitutional Effects. 6 Albany Government Law Review 307 (2013). With Trevor Burrus.

President: “I do not believe in the Divinity of Christ.” Volokh.com. Oct. 8, 2011.

“If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final.” President Coolidge's remarks on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Volokh.com. July 4, 2010.

The Bernardine Dohrn of the early 20th century: The terrorist professor at U of Texas law school. Volokh.com. May 24, 2010.

Epic battle for press freedom. In 1905, News owner took on a compromised supreme court. Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post, July 1, 2006.

Brothers In Arms. How civil rights flowed from a rifle barrel. Armed black resistance to race riots in the 20th century. Reason.com, Feb. 24, 2005.

The Second Amendment Before the Supreme Court. United States v. Miller and all preceding cases. Liberty. Dec. 2003.

World War II

Maryland Governor Herbert O'Conor Calls Forth the Militia in WWII. Volokh.com, Feb. 13, 2008.

Today in history: “Juden…waffen!” Volokh.com. April 19, 2011.

Armed Resistance to the Holocaust. 19 Journal of Firearms & Public Policy 144 (2007). Final version in PDF. Earlier version in HTML. Earlier version in Polish/Polski.

Enforcing Godwin's Law, 1/31/06.

An Appeal for De Gaulle. France’s true greatest day. National Review Online. July 14, 2001.

Anniversary of DeGaulle's birth, 11/22/05.

Book review of Target Switzerland. The American Enterprise magazine.

D-Day was almost a German Holiday. June 1994. With Dan Gifford.

The Torch of Freedom. Roosevelt lit the path Kerry’s afraid to follow. National Review Online. Oct. 6, 2004. After Pearl Harbor, the United States responded by invading neutral French North Africa.

Why D-Day Mattered. National Review Online. June 6, 2000.

Hitler’s Control. The gun control lessons of Nazi history. National Review Online. May 22, 2003. With Richard Griffiths. En français. In italiano.

Gun Bans and "Schindler's List". Independence Institute. Aug. 24, 1994. With William R. Tonso.

Terrorists are much worse than kamikazes, 4/17/02.

Déjà vu in a liberated Iraq. Winning the war is half the battle; what's harder is winning hearts. Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post. Oct. 25, 2003. Examines 1946 American media coverage of liberated Germany.

Explaining Eisentrager. The Second Amendment is for individual gun owners. National Review Online. April 20, 2004. Español.

Post-WWII, United States

60s sitcom themes: The hidden alien. The strange family that doesn’t know it is strange. Volokh.com. Nov. 23, 2011.\

1959 time machine episode of Colorado Inside-Out. Winner of the 2010 award (for 2009 programs) for best Interview/Discussion Program/Special from the Heartland Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Speech in honor of Harry Truman. Boulder County Democrats annual Truman Dinner. May 26, 2004. Longmont, Colorado.

The Truth about the Dixiecrats. What they were about. National Review Online. Dec. 16, 2002.

Her Own Bodyguard. Gun-packing First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. National Review Online. Jan. 24, 2002. With Paul Gallant & Joanne Eisen.

blog: Anniversary of Natkong River defense by U.S. & R.O.K. forces, 8/4/03.

Post-WWII, World

Communist Gun Control. Gun control in Rumania and the rest of the Warsaw Pact.

blog: Cardinal Mindszenty, 2/8/03.

Book review of Aaron Zelman, et al., Lethal Laws, 15 New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law 355 (1995).

"All the Way Down the Slippery Slope: Gun Prohibition in England, and Some Lessons for America." 22 Hamline Law Review 399 (1999). With Joseph Olson. PDF version also available.

Lost Battles, Lost Rights. How the British lost their right to arms in the twentieth century, by imposing one "reasonable" law on another, until the right was extinguished.


Ronald Reagan’s “Extremism” and the 1966 California Gubernatorial Election. Encyclopedia Britannica blog. Feb. 4, 2011.

Freedom is not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America's Struggle over Black Family Life--from LBJ to Obama. Kopel interviews Brown University history professor James T. Patterson about his book examining the tragic rise of illegitimacy rates, and the American political elite's refusal to address the problem for decades. MP3. 50 minutes. During the course of our discussion, I mentioned my own writing about successful early intervention programs for at-risk children; that writing is contained in this Barry Law Review article, text at notes 214-28.

Conservatives and the Civil Rights Movement. The Volokh Conspiracy. Sept. 11, 2009.

Mr. President, You're No JFK. The Elian Gonzalez kidnapping. National Review Online. Apr. 24, 2000.

Barry Goldwater and John Andrews. Colorado Leader. Dec. 1, 1990.

Texas-Sized Liar. Book review of Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times 1961-1973, By Robert Dallek. The American Enterprise. Nov./Dec. 1998.

The Highbrow in American Politics: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and the Role of the Intellectual in Politics, Honors Thesis in History, Brown University, May 1982. Awarded Highest Honors, and National Geographic Society Prize.

The story of the armed community organizers. The civil rights movement. Volokh.com. February 22, 2010.

How the right to arms saved the non-violent civil rights protesters. Volokh.com. February 8, 2010.

1970s to Present

Watergate quiz. A quiz with 100 questions about the Watergate scandal. Washington Post. Oct. 29, 2014.

Ronald Reagan’s AR-15. Volokh.com. Jan. 15, 2013.

Reagan’s infamous speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Despite what the media told you, it was not a racist speech. Volokh Conspiracy.  Aug. 16, 2011.

The "San Francisco Democrats" meme. Debunking the notion that Jeanne Kirkpatrick's 1984 foreign policy speech to the Republican National Convention was anti-gay. The Volokh Conspiracy. April 4, 2011.

Ranking Reagan. How well did he accomplish his own goals? National Review Online. June 8, 2004.

Mid-Term of the Bush-Clinton Administration. Orange County Register. Dec. 19, 1993. Español.

2000 election recount

Illegal Ballots? Hooey. Read the statute. National Review Online. Nov. 10, 2000.

The Palm Beach Legal Precedent. No cause for Dem squawking. National Review Online. Nov. 9, 2000.

The Recount Culture. The controversy about Florida isn’t just about politics. National Review Online. Dec. 2, 2000. With David Stolinsky.

Dread the Dred Scott Reference. Don’t toss this case around unless you know what you're talking about. National Review Online. Dec. 14, 2000.



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