Document Type


Publication Date



This Article represents a polemic against the most harmful aspects of the policing status quo. At its core, the work asserts the right of civilians to defend against unlawful deadly police conduct. It argues that existing gun and self-defense laws provide a practical and principled basis for curbing police misconduct. It also examines legislative trends in gun laws to show that much of most recent liberalizing of gun rights is a direct response to self-defense concerns sparked by mass public shootings. The expansion of gun rights and self-defense comes at a time when ongoing police killings of Black civilians menace public opinion of the police and killings that result from ambush-style execution of a warrant. This Article posits that expanded gun rights and self-defense law can lead to greater police accountability such that civilians are empowered in the streets, in their homes, and in courts, with knowledge of their rights against police. The central thrust of the work is that expanded lawful gun possession by educated carriers increases the potential for legal gun possessors and carriers to intervene — not only to prevent mass killings, but also to counter unlawful bodily harm by police. Hence, this Article contemplates how existing law can be used to achieve more just outcomes, underscores that gun rights are at the core a self-defense issue, and maintains that sometimes police are the trigger for the use of self-defense.