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. Currently, he is researching issues involving self-defense and the right to keep and bear arms. He teaches criminal law, professional responsibility, and a seminar on the Second Amendment.

Ruben’s scholarly work has been published or is forthcoming in the California Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Georgetown Law Journal, Iowa Law Review, and Yale Law Journal Forum.  
He also has provided legal commentary for various popular outlets, including ABC News, The New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN, The AtlanticVoxScotusblog, 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


“Second-Class” Rhetoric, Ideology, and Doctrinal Change, 110 Georgetown Law Journal (forthcoming 2022) (with Joseph Blocher)

Law of the Gun: Unrepresentative Cases and Distorted Doctrine, 107 Iowa Law Review. (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 1 (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)


Other Publications

Edited Volume

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

Selected Publications

The Distortion of Self-Defense and the Second Amendment in Missouri, Duke Second Thoughts Blog (July 2020)

The Supreme Court’s Second Amendment Surprise, Brennan Center Blog (June 2020)

What the Supreme Court’s Latest Second Amendment Ruling Means for Future Cases, Brennan Center Blog (May 2020)

The Second Amendment Allows for More Gun Control Than You Think, (May 2018) (with Joseph Blocher)

There Is No Constitutional Bar to Further Gun Control, N.Y. Times (June 2016)

Exaggerated Claims of “Judicial Nullification” in Gun Cases, The Jurist (May 2016)

Justice Scalia, the Second Amendment, and Judicial Conservatives, (February 2016)

Don’t Expect the Supreme Court to Overturn Assault Weapon Bans, ACSBlog (October 2015)

The Slave-State Origins of Modern Gun Rights, The Atlantic (September 2015) (with Saul Cornell)



An Unstable Core: Self-Defense and the Second Amendment
Duke University School of Law
Video Interview (May 2020)

The Second Amendment is Not a Second-Class Right: A Case Study in Constitutional Rhetoric
AALS Conference (January 2020)

Mistake, Self Defense, and the Role of the Jury: Framing the Botham Jean/Amber Guyger Case
SMU Dedman School of Law
Flash Class (October 2019)

The Second Amendment and Self-Defense
Hastings School of Law
San Francisto, CA (January 2019);
New York University School of Law
New York, NY (April 2018); and
University of New Hampshire School of Law
Concord, NH (April 2018)

Guns and Free Speech
New York University School of Law
New York, NY (November 2017)

Justifying Perceptions in First and Second Amendment Doctrine
Guns in a Civil Society Summit
Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility
Seattle, WA (November 2017) and
Symposium on Second Generation of Second Amendment Law & Policy
New York University School of Law
New York, NY (April 2016)

Preemption and Firearms Law
Constitutional Governance Practicum
Columbia Law School
New York, NY (September 2017)

The Second Amendment: A Discussion
Fordham Law Chapter of the American Constitutional Society
Washington, DC (September 2017)

Discussion on Second Amendment Jurisprudence and Advocacy
NYU Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society
New York, NY (March 2016)

An Introduction and Discussion on the Second Amendment
Cardozo Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society
New York, NY (March 2016)

The Second Amendment: Gun Rights in America
John Jay College
New York, NY (November 2015)

Selected Presentations

The Gun Shop
Fulbright Film Series Panel Discussion
(February 2018)

The Second Amendment and Gun Laws: 
A Primer for Advocates

New York Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society
(October 2017)

When the First and Second Amendment Collide
League of Women Voters Gun Safety Committee
(September 2017)

Binderup and the Future of As-Applied Second Amendment Challenges
Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy
(February 2017)

2nd Amendment - Protecting Rights, Protecting People
The Liberty Series
Union League of Philadelphia
(January 2017)



Selected Media Appearances

Olivia Li, On Guns, Barrett’s Philosophy Leaves Little Room for Public Safety, The Trace (September 2020)

Greg Stohr, Gun Cases Could Prompt Supreme Court to Bolster Second Amendment, Bloomberg News (June 2020)

Annie McDonough, Ask the Experts: What Does SCOTUS’ Second Amendment Case Mean for New York?, City & State New York (April 2020)

U.S. Supreme Court Leaves Bump Stock Ban in Place, CT Public Radio (March 2020)

Virginia Assault Weapon Bill Shot Down by Senate Committee, KCBS Radio (February 2020)

Kaley Johnson, White Settlement church shooter had a long criminal history. So how did he get a gun?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (January 2020)

2020 Will Be a Big Year for the Gun Issue, The Trace (January 2020)

Adam Liptak, After Long Gap, Supreme Court Poised to Break Silence on Gun Rights, N.Y. Times (December 2019)

Supreme Court Watchers See Chief Justice as Possible Fifth Vote to Dismiss Major Gun Case, The Trace (December 2019)

Richard Wolf, Supreme Court may expand Second Amendment rights despite repeal of disputed gun restrictions, U.S.A. Today (December 2019)

John Kruzel, Supreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade, The Hill (December 2019)

Matt Cohen, Gun Violence Costs Americans Billions Every Year. A California Mayor Has a Plan to Make Gun Owners Pay for It, (August 2019)

Jennifer Mascia, What to Know About the Supreme Court’s First Gun Case in 9 Years, The Trace (April 2019)

A Historic Ruling on Guns, Ten Years Later, 1A: NPR (June 2018) (radio interview)

Jon Schuppe, Low-Crime Village Bans Military-Style Guns, Citing Parkland and Other Mass Shootings, (April 2018)

Andrew Wong, Why the US Is So Different From the UK and Australia When It Comes to Gun Control, (March 2018)

Kiran Alvi, US: Most Mass Shootings not Committed by Mentally Ill, (November 2017)

Jared Keller, Is The End of the Assault Rifle Nigh?, Pacific Standard (February 2017)

Does the Second Amendment Leave Any Room for Gun Control Laws?, Take Two: KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) (June 2016) (radio interview)

Guns in the Spotlight: Do Americans Really Need an Assault Weapon to Protect Themselves?, Paul Henry Show: TV3 (New Zealand) (June 2016)