Stephen P. Halbrook is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and an author and lawyer known for his litigation on behalf of the National Rifle Association. He has written extensively about the original meanings of the Second Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment (the latter as applied to Second Amendment rights). He has argued and won three cases before the US Supreme Court: Printz v. United States, United States v. Thompson-Center Arms Company, and Castillo v. United States. He has also written briefs in many other cases, including the Supreme Court cases Small v. United States (pertaining to the Gun Control Act of 1968) and McDonald v. Chicago. In District of Columbia v. Heller, he wrote a brief on behalf of the majority of both houses of Congress. More broadly, his decades of research on the Second Amendment contributed to the intellectual foundation of the Heller decision. He has written many books and articles on the topic of gun control, some of which have been cited in Supreme Court opinions (Heller, McDonald, Printz v. United States). He has testified before congress on multiple occasions. Halbrook's most important scholarly contribution, however, was the book That Every Man Be Armed, originally published in 1986. The book was the most thorough analysis of the legal history and original intent of the Second Amendment.
Halbrook attended Florida State University, receiving a B.S. Business in 1969 and a PhD in Philosophy in 1972. He then attended Georgetown University, receiving his J.D. in 1978. He began as an instructor of philosophy at Florida State University, 1970-72. After completing his PhD he worked as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Tuskegee Institute (1972–74), Howard University (1974–79), and George Mason University (1980–81). While in law school at Georgetown he acted as a Law Fellow of Georgetown's Barristers' Council from 1975-77.
Since 1978 he has been an attorney specializing in civil litigation and criminal defense. Halbrook defies all stereotypes about gun rights advocates. He did not come to the issue with a particularly abiding interest in guns, or even as a conservative. He has published several books and dozens of articles on the history of the right to bear arms, the historical background of the Second Amendment, modern gun control, Nazi gun control policies during World War II, and Switzerland's policy of armed neutrality during World War II. Halbrook first appeared on the Second Amendment scene with a 1981 article in the George Mason University Law Review, arguing that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to arms, and that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to make that Second Amendment guarantee enforceable against the states. His dozens of articles in scholarly journals, as well as his books, played a major role in sparking great academic and judicial interest in the Second Amendment and firearms policy. He has argued that the Second Amendment, properly understood, protected both the states' right to maintain a militia and an individual right to bear arms for self-defense.
Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance Oakland: Independent Institute, 2018. Print.
Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and "enemies of the State" Oakland: Independent Institute, 2014. Print.
Why Can't We Be Like France? How the Right to Bear Arms Got Left Out of the Declaration of Rights and How Gun Registration was Decreed Just In Time For the Nazi Occupation, 39 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1637, 2012.
Firearms Law Deskbook: Federal and State Criminal Practice. St. Paul, MN: Thomson/West, 2006. Previous editions with annual supplements by Clark Boardman Callaghan/Thomson/West Group, 1995-2005.
The Constitutional Right to Hunt: New Recognition of an Old Liberty in Virginia, 19 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 197, (2010).
Heller, the Second Amendment, and Reconstruction: Protecting All Freedmen or Only Militiamen, 50 Santa Clara L. Rev. 1073, 2010.
Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II. Rockville Center, N.Y.: Sarpedon Publishers, 1998 (hardback); Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2003 (paperback).
The Founder's Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee for the Independent Institute, 2008.
The Swiss and the Nazis: How the Alpine Republic Survived in the Shadow of the Third Reich. Havertown, Pa.: Casemate Publishers; Gloucestershire, UK: Spellmount Ltd., 2006.
St. George Tucker's Second Amendment: Deconstructing "The True Palladium of Liberty", Tennessee Journal of Law & Policy: Vol. 3: Iss. 2, Article 3. 2006.
Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1998. Updated edition published as Securing Civil Rights (Independent Institute 2010).
That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984. Reprinted in 1994, 2000 by Independent Institute, Oakland, Ca.
The Right of the People or the Power of the State: Bearing Arms, Arming Militias, and the Second Amendment, 26 Val. U. L. Rev. 131. 1991
A Right to Bear Arms: State and Federal Bills of Rights and Constitutional Guarantees. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1989.
What the Framers Intended: A Linguistic Analysis of the Right to "Bear Arms", 49 Law and Contemporary Problems 151-162, 1986.
Defectless Firearms Litigation (edited, with Michael K. McCabe). Washington, D.C.: NRA-ILA, 1984.
- John Gibeaut, Bringing Lawyers, Guns and Money, ABA Journal
- Marjolijn Bijlefeld, People for and against gun control: a biographical reference, Greenwood Press, 1999, pp. 105-108, ISBN 0313306907, 9780313306907
- Carter, Greg (2012). Guns In American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law, Second Edition. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, LLC. pp. 385–390. ISBN 978-0-313-38670-1.
- "Banning Small Metal Firearms and Plastic Firearms," Undetectable Firearms, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Senate Judiciary Committee, 100th Cong., 1st Sess., 57-105 (1987).
- "Infringements on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms," Selected Crime Issues: Prevention and Punishment, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice, House Judiciary Committee, 102nd Cong., 1st Sess., 849-897 (1991).
- "Prohibition of Firearms as an Infringement on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, House Judiciary Committee, April 25, 1994, 22 pp.
- "Semiautomatic Firearms and the Second Amendment," Assault Weapons, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Senate Judiciary Committee, 101 Cong., 1st Sess., 165-205 (1990).
- Halbrook, Stephen. "The Right to Keep and Bear Arms under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments The Framers' Intent and Supreme Court Jurisprudence". Constitutional Society. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Cole, David (2016). Engines of Liberty. New York: Basic Books. pp. 117–118. ISBN 9780465060900.
- "Stephen P. Halbrook". The Independent Institute. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- "Amazon.com: Stephen P. Halbrook: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Finn, Peter (2013-03-13). "NRA money helped reshape gun law". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Stifung für Abendländische Besinnung (Foundation for Western Thought) prize, Zürich, 9 Nov. 2002, which included publication of booklet STAB-Preis 2002 für Stephen P. Halbrook und Angelo M. Codevilla. "'Kontrapunkt zur Diffamierung der Schweiz': Preisverleihung an Stephen Halbrook und Angelo Codevilla," Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11.11.2002, Nr. 262, S. 27.
- Max Geilinger Foundation prize for works contributing to Swiss and Anglo-American culture, Zürich, May 27, 2000, which including publication of booklet Die Schweiz im Visier. "Auszeichnung für Stephen P. Halbrook: Überreichung des Preises der Max-Geilinger-Stiftung," Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 31. Mai 2000, S. 47.