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Political and legal debates over assault rifles, large-capacity magazines, and other lethal technology are characterized by increasing rancor and hostility. Lack of a common vocabulary to describe the topics of debate, much less facilitate a constructive dialogue, only aggravates this trend. Sorely missing from the current debate is a shared vocabulary for what the public policy and the constitutional doctrine are aiming to achieve. Part I of this Article outlines the state of Second Amendment doctrine with respect to which and what type of arms are protected, and the confused language and goals of that doctrine. Part II provides a short biography of Trevor N. Dupuy and his development of the Theoretical Lethality Index (TLI), a useful metric for quantifying the lethality of firearms in historical terms. Part III demonstrates how Dupuy’s TLI can help guide policy makers and judges as they engage with the right to keep and bear arms in a post-Heller world.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Firearms--Law and legislation, Gun control, Weapons, Firearms ownership