Stephen Halbrook, Ph.D.

Stephen Halbrook, Ph.D.

Stephen Halbrook is an attorney with extensive knowledge of the historical underpinnings of the Second Amendment and practical knowledge of litigating in this rapidly evolving area of law. His writings include topics as diverse as Gun Control in the Third Reich and The Founders' Second Amendment, and he was heavily involved in Heller and McDonald." – U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan, in Shepard v. Madigan, 2014 WL 4825592, *7 (S.D. Ill. 2014) (awarding attorney's fees in challenge to Illinois carry ban). See further

Legal background and focus

Stephen Halbrook has been engaged in civil litigation and criminal defense since 1978, particularly regarding constitutional issues involving Federalism and Bill of Rights guarantees. Represents firearm associations, manufacturers, importers, dealers, and owners in administrative, civil, and criminal proceedings under federal, state, and local law, with a major focus on ATF compliance.

Member of Virginia State Bar, District of Columbia Bar, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals - all circuits, other federal courts. Testified in U.S. Senate and House Committees on the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Bill, the Fix NICS Act, numerous other firearm bills, and on the nominations of Eric Holder and Sonia Sotomayor.

Academic background

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. (1978); Florida State University, Ph.D. Philosophy (1972). Assistant Professor of Philosophy 1972-81, George Mason University, Howard University, Tuskegee University. Senior Fellow, The Independent Institute.

Supreme Court cases litigated

Argued Castillo v. U.S., 530 U.S. 120 (2000); Printz v. U.S., 521 U.S. 898 (1997); U.S. v. Thompson/Center Arms Co., 504 U.S. 505 (1992). Co-counsel in Small v. U.S., 544 U.S. 385 (2005), and for NRA in McDonald v. Chicago, 130 S.Ct. 3020 (2010). Counsel for amici curiae 55 Senators, the Senate President, and 250 Representatives in D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).


Firearms Law Deskbook: Federal and State Criminal Practice (Thomson/West 2019).

Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance (2018).

Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and "Enemies of the State" (2013). Also published in German, French, and Portuguese.

The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms (2008). Cited in McDonald v. Chicago.

Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876 (1998). New Edition: Securing Civil Rights (2010). Cited in McDonald v. Chicago and DC v. Heller.

That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (1984, New Ed. 2013).

A Right to Bear Arms: State & Federal Bills of Rights & Constitutional Guarantees (1989).

The Swiss and the Nazis: How the Alpine Republic Survived in the Shadow of the Third Reich ( 2006). Also published in German, French, and Polish.

Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II (1998, 2003). Also published in German, French, Italian and Polish.

Selected Articles

"The Right of 'The People' to 'Bear Arms': The Common Law, the Second Amendment, and the Carrying of Firearms Outside the Home" (2019). Available at SSRN:

"Taking Heller Seriously: Where Has the Roberts Court Been, and Where Is it Headed, on the Second Amendment?" 13 Charleston L. Rev. 175 (2018).

"Firearm Sound Moderators: Issues of Criminalization & the Second Amendment," 46:1 Cumberland L. Rev. 33 (2016).

"Reality Check: The ‘Assault Weapon' Fantasy and Second Amendment Jurisprudence," 14 Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy 47-76 (2016).

"New York's Not So ‘SAFE' Act," 78 Albany L. Rev. 789 (2014/15).

"The Empire Strikes Back: D.C.'s Post-Heller Firearm Registration System," 81 Tenn. L. Rev. 571 (2014).

"Why Can't We Be Like France?" 34 Fordham Urban Law Journal, No. 5, 1637 (2012).

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