Professor Eugene Volokh is famously known for liking substantial burden analysis when it comes to the Second Amendment, particularly when it comes to deciding the constitutionality of magazine bans.
I came across an interesting statistic this morning that got me thinking. According to a Pew Poll released earlier in the year, the typical American reads five books a year, just like a typical self-defense shooting only involves two shots. For the sake of argument, it would not be too substantial a burden on a person’s First Amendment right to limit the number of books Americans can buy in one year to twenty-five books.
We could take this substantial burden analysis a step further, and suggest that since the average person learns to read and write at about age seven, and the average person lives until approximately 78 years of age, it would be hardly a substantial burden on a person’s First Amendment right to limit the size of private library to 1775 books. No person may own more than 1775 books.
And why would this not be constitutional? After all, it’s possible to limit magazine sizes to ten rounds, and the consequence if someone runs out of ammunition during a violent attack are far more severe than a person just not being able to buy as many books as they would like, or have large libraries of books at their private residences. Running out of books is surely a lesser problem than running out of ammunition at a critical juncture!
UPDATE: One might argue there’s no governmental interest, but suppose it’s saving trees? You can have as many e-books as you want, but you’re strictly limited in paper books. The surplus books can be recycled and put back in to supply existing paper needs.