One-Day Symposium

Friday, May 5, 2023
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, 343 Washington Terrace

Every month, around 70 women in the U.S. are shot and killed by their partners. In fact, firearms are used in the majority of domestic violence homicides today.

How has the proliferation of guns in U.S. homes shaped historical patterns of domestic (physical, sexual, and psychological) abuse? What are the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent Bruen decision on gun ownership for the domestic violence crisis? What will the likely role of history and historians be in a post-Bruen world where “historical analogy” is the primary test in deciding legal cases?

This one-day symposium convened leading researchers and practitioners from a variety of perspectives for a wide-ranging conversation about how firearms and domestic violence are entwined, historically and today.

Made possible through a generous contribution from the Amy Schulman Fund for Women and Gender.

Symposium Schedule:

9:30 a.m. Coffee and pastries

10:00 a.m. Welcome by Wesleyan Provost Nicole Stanton and CSGS Founding Director Jennifer Tucker

10:15–11:00 a.m. Originalism, the Supreme Court, the Texas Rahimi decision, & History, with Saul Cornell, Reva Siegel, and Kelly Sampson (Moderator: Kelly Roskam) 

11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Firearms and Domestic Violence in Historical, Epidemiologic, and Contemporary Perspective, with Jackie Campbell, Matthew Miller, and Julia Weber.  (Moderator: Brennan Rivas)

12:00­–1:00 p.m.  Boxed Lunches provided for registered participants.

1:00–2:00 p.m. Historians and Legal Scholars on DV, with Laura Edwards, Elizabeth Pleck, & Victoria Nourse (Moderator: Jennifer Tucker)

2:00–3:00 p.m. Roundtable Panel discussion with Crystal Feimster, Alicia Nichols, & Kelly Sampson: “Rethinking Regulation in the U.S.: Why Gun Safety is a Reproductive Issue, Too” (Moderator: Karen Attiah)

3:00­­–4:00 p.m. Audience Discussion (Moderators: Karen Attiah and Jennifer Tucker)

4:00 p.m.  Tent reception and drinks


Historical Research

Laura F. Edwards, a legal historian at Princeton University and the author of five books about legal and gender history in the United States. 

Crystal Feimster, associate professor in the Departments of African American Studies and History and the Programs of American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is a prize-winning historian whose academic focus is on racial and sexual violence in 19th and 20th century U.S. history.

Elizabeth Pleck is professor emerita of history and human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an expert on the history of the family and legal, political, and medical campaigns against domestic violence from colonial times to the present.

Legal Research

Saul Cornell is the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University, and the author of two prize-winning works in American legal history.

Victoria Nourse, Ralph Whitworth Professor of Law at Georgetown University and central staff drafter of the 1994 Violence against Women Act and the Brady Bill. 

Kelly Sampson is Senior Counsel and Director of Racial Justice at The Brady Center in Washington, D.C and the author of The Right Not To Be Shot: Public Safety, Private Guns, and the Constellation of Constitutional Liberties, published in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Policy. 

Reva Siegel is the Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her writing draws on legal history to explore questions of law and inequality and to analyze how courts interact with representative government and popular movements in interpreting the Constitution.

Policy Research

Alicia Nichols, LSW, the Director of Innovation at the Battered Women’s Justice Project (BWJP) and Deputy Director of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms. 

Julia Weber, JD, MSW, Firearms and Domestic Violence Policy Consultant.

Public Health Research

Jacquelyn C. Campbell, professor and the Anna D. Wolf Chair at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the national program director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Nurse Faculty Scholars program.

Matthew Miller, Professor of Health Sciences and Epidemiology at Northeastern University, Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Co-Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.


Karen Attiah, columnist at The Washington Post writing on international affairs, culture, and human rights issues.

Brennan Rivas, historian and independent scholar.

Kelly Roskam, director of law and policy at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history at Wesleyan University and founding director of the Center for the Study of Guns & Society.