Quinnipiac University School of Law to host symposium, ‘Guns and Freedom’

October 01, 2020

exterior of the School of Law Center during Fall

The Quinnipiac School of Law will host the symposium, “Guns and Freedom,” on Friday, November 13.

The virtual program, which is free and open to the public, will run from 9 a.m.–3:45 p.m. The symposium will focus on gun violence and “libertarian” approaches to reducing it. For example, panelists will discuss Donna’s Law, which allows individuals who fear suicide to prevent their own future gun purchases.

“Too often, the issue of gun regulation is polarized between advocates who call for greater ‘safety’ and those who purport to defend ‘freedom,’” said Jennifer Gerarda Brown, dean of Quinnipiac’s School of Law. “This symposium shows us that this dichotomy is a false one, as it examines policy changes that can promote both safety and freedom. I look forward to the discussion.”

The symposium, cosponsored by the Quinnipiac Law Review, will be centered on the new book, “Weapon of Choice: Fighting Gun Violence While Respecting Gun Rights,” by Ian Ayres and Fredrick Vars. The authors will introduce the panelists and present closing remarks. There will be time reserved for questions and answers. 

Ayres is the William K. Townsend Professor at Yale Law School and a professor in Yale’s School of Management. He is the author of many books, including the New York Times best-seller, “Super Crunchers.” He is a contributor to Forbes, the public radio program Marketplace, and the New York Times.

Vars is the Ira Drayton Pruitt Sr. Professor of Law at the University of Alabama, where he specializes in mental health law. He works with numerous suicide-prevention organizations and is a member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Gun Violence.

The symposium will feature the following three panels:

9 – 10:30 a.m. — Empowering Self-Restriction

  • Joseph Blocher, a Duke Law professor whose scholarly research includes issues of gun rights and regulation.

  • Dr. Matthew Miller, the associate director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and a suicide prevention expert.

  • Katrina Brees, whose proposed bill, “Donna’s Law,” would create a voluntary “do-not-sell” gun list in Louisiana for people who fear they are a danger to themselves or others. The legislation is named in honor of Brees’ mother, Donna Nathan, who died by suicide.

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Harnessing Others’ Associational Choices

  • Brannon P. Denning, a professor of law at Sanford University who teaches and writes in the area of constitutional law, including a casebook on firearm law.

  • Stephen G. Gilles, a professor of law at Quinnipiac who has written extensively on the First and Second Amendments.

  • Carol Rose, a professor emeritus of law and organization at Yale and a leading property scholar.

2 – 3:30 p.m. — Harnessing Others’ Information

  • Jens Ludwig, the director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab. He has written extensively about gun violence prevention.

  • Jeff Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke and the principal investigator of a multistate study on firearms laws, mental illness and the prevention of violence.

  • Sandra J. Wortham, an attorney and activist whose brother, a Chicago policeman, was murdered 10 years ago.

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