Eric Ruben

Eric Ruben

Full-time faculty

Assistant Professor of Law

Phone: 214-768-2581




Professor Ruben’s scholarly interests span criminal law, constitutional law, legal ethics, legal empirics, and legal history. His current scholarship explores the regulation of violence and weapons, and how that regulation intersects with self-defense and Second Amendment rights. Ruben teaches criminal law, professional responsibility, and a seminar on the Second Amendment.

Ruben’s work has been published or is forthcoming in the California Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Georgetown Law Journal, Harvard Law Review Forum, Iowa Law Review, Southern California Law Review, and Yale Law Journal Forum, and has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals, and in legal briefs.  He frequently provides legal commentary for popular outlets, including for ABC News, MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Atlantic, Vox, Scotusblog, NPR, and CBS Radio.

Prior to joining SMU, Ruben was a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law.  Before that, he worked as a criminal defense attorney at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, P.C. and served as a law clerk for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Ruben received his J.D. from NYU School of Law, where he was an Articles Editor for the NYU Law Review, and his B.A. from Dartmouth College, where he graduated magna cum laude.

Areas of Expertise

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Legal Ethics
  • Second Amendment
  • Weapons Law


B.A., Dartmouth College
J.D., NYU School of Law


Criminal Law
Professional Responsibility
Second Amendment


Articles and Essays

Self-Defense Exceptionalism and the Immunization of Private Violence, 96 S. Cal. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2023)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

Public Carry and Criminal Law After Bruen, 135 Harv. L. Rev. F. __ (forthcoming 2022)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

“Second-Class” Rhetoric, Ideology, and Doctrinal Change, 110 Georgetown Law Journal __ (forthcoming 2022) (with Joseph Blocher)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

Law of the Gun: Unrepresentative Cases and Distorted Doctrine, 107 Iowa Law Review 173 (2021)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

The Gun Rights Movement and “Arms” Under the Second Amendment, Brennan Ctr. for Just. (2021)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

An Unstable Core: Self-Defense and the Second Amendment, 108 California Law Review 63 (2020)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

You Can Lead a Horse to Water: Heller and the Future of Second Amendment Scholarship, 68 Duke Law Journal Online 1 (2018) (with Joseph Blocher)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

From Theory to Doctrine: An Empirical Analysis of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms After Heller, 67 Duke Law Journal 1433 (2018) (with Joseph Blocher)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

  • cited in Mance v. Sessions (5th Cir. 2018) (Higginson, concurring)

Justifying Perceptions in First and Second Amendment Doctrine, 80 Law & Contemporary Problems 149 (2017)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

Preface: The Second Generation of Second Amendment Law & Policy, 80 Law & Contemporary Problems 2 (2017) (with Darrell A. H. Miller)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

Firearm Regionalism and Public Carry: Placing Southern Antebellum Case Law in Context, 125 Yale Law Journal F. 121 (2015) (with Saul Cornell)
Full-text:  SSRN | SMU Scholar

  • cited in Young v. Hawaii (9th Cir. 2018)

Edited Issues

Protests, Insurrection, and the Second AmendmentBrennan Ctr. for Just. (2021)

Second Generation of Second Amendment Law and Policy, 80 Law & Contemporary Problems 1-251 (2017) (with Darrell Miller)

Other Publications


Selected Media Appearances

Kevin McCoy, Gun Rights Groups’ Wave of Lawsuits Could Change America’s Relationship With Firearms, USA Today (February 2022) (print)

Kyle Rittenhouse and the “Self-Defense” Defense, Vox's Today, Explained (November 2021) (podcast)  

Kiara Alfonseca, Arbery, Rittenhouse Cases Spotlight Self-Defense and Vigilantism, ABC News (November 2021) (print)

Marc Fisher & Mark Berman, After Rittenhouse: Will Deadly Clashes Multiply as the Right to Self-Defense Expands?, Wash. Post (November 2021) (print)

The Claim of Self-Defense Raising Concerns in Recent Court Cases, KCBS Radio San Francisco (November 2021) (radio)

Shaila Dewan, Can Self-Defense Laws Stand Up to a Country Awash in Guns?, N.Y. Times (November 2021) (print)

Will More People Get Legal Handguns in NY?, NYC’s WPIX 11 TV (November 2021) (television)

Jonah E. Bromwich & Ashley Southall, What Happens if the Supreme Court Strikes Down New York’s Gun Law?, N.Y. Times (November 2021) (print)

Bob Ortega, Fears of Unlikely Federal Gun-Control Measures Lead to Raft of State Laws, (November 2021) (print)

Interview, Houston’s ABC 13 KTRK TV (November 2021) (television)

Noah Goldberg, Supreme Court Appears Likely to Shoot Down New York Gun Law, N.Y. Daily News (November 2021) (print)

Devin Dwyer, Gun Owners Ask Supreme Court to Back Concealed Carry for Self-Defense, ABC News Live (November 2021) (television and print)

Marcia Coyle, Originalists’ Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett Under Microscope in 2nd Amendment Case, Nat’l L.J. (October 2021) (print)

SCOTUS Returns for Blockbuster Term, ABC News Live (October 2021) (television)

Dan Frosch and Elizabeth Findell, Air Force Found Largely Responsible for Texas Church Shooting, Wall Street Journal (July 2021) (print)

“The Week” with Joshua Johnson, NBC Peacock TV (April 2021) (television)

 Matt Reynolds, Lawyers Involved in the Gun Debate Are Primed for the Supreme Court to Take the Next Big Case, ABA Journal (December 2020) (print)