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Firearms Law and Policy Seminar

This unique course at WVU Law helps students explore and understand U.S. and West Virginia firearms law and policy, including the Second Amendment.

“As a black male and someone who is interested in American history, I enjoyed taking Professor Rhee's firearms policy course because it allowed me to have an in-depth understanding of the reasons behind some of the first gun control schemes in our nation. This course gave me an opportunity to look at firearms policy with a unique perspective that is often ignored during our nation's current debate regarding the utility of firearms." — Mark Baker '19

In the Firearms Law and Policy Seminar, students discuss contentious “right to bear arms” issues in a professional environment where all viewpoints are encouraged and examined. They also write an original research paper about a gun-related issue of their choosing.

Law professor Will Rhee serves as a discussion facilitator in the seminar and provides one-on-one feedback to each student about their particular research topic.

Professor Rhee talks about his Firearms Law and Policy Seminar.

In fall 2018, students wrote about and discussed topics like mass shootings and avoidable firearm injuries; recreational shooting and gun collecting; the media’s glorification of violence and action heroes; 3-D printed guns; and global comparative firearms policy.

“In this class, I get students whose opinions run the ideological gamut,” said Rhee. “Above all, I am concerned that students understand why they believe what they do and the practical consequences that flow from that belief.”

To help students better understand the actual objects behind gun legislation, Rhee works with the West Virginia University Police Department to create a hands-on experience learning about how firearms operate.  

“I think police officers have a unique perspective concerning guns,” said Rhee. “They are subject-matter experts who often love guns, but they are also the most heavily impacted by the proliferation of privately owned guns and changes in concealed carry laws. They are also less partisan and more objective than private gun experts when talking about guns in their official capacity.”

WVU Law firearms simulator

The WVU Police Department invites Rhee’s class to participate in its Fire Arms Training Simulator each year. The simulator exposes students to real-life police training exercises and the decision-making process required when using deadly force.

Professor Rhee discusses the firearms training simulator.

Regardless of the students’ position on guns, students leave WVU Law’s Firearms Law and Policy course with an understanding of the technical operation of guns and firearms-related decision-making, equipping them to make more informed policy decisions when they enter the legal profession.

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