Gun Violence and Human Rights


This article challenges the prevailing narrative regarding gun rights in the United States by viewing them through the lens of human rights. In doing so, it makes five central claims. First, that the U.S. gun violence crisis implicates the rights enshrined in human rights treaties and customary international law. Second, that the U.S. government is responsible for addressing these rights violations. Third, that the U.S. government’s failure to do so is violative of its international human rights obligations. Fourth, that the Second Amendment does not pose a legal bar to the sorts of government actions that would meet this obligation. And, fifth, that both international and domestic remedies are available to those harmed by the U.S. government’s inaction.


human rights, gun rights, international law, gun violence



Leila Nadya Sadat (James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law and Director, Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, Washington University School of Law, St. Louis; Special Adviser on Crimes Against Humanity to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor)
Madaline M. George (Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute Fellow and a 2014 graduate of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis)



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