June 26, 2008
Supreme Court Affirms Right to Own Guns for Self-Defense
In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller (No. 07–290)(pdf) that D.C.'s ban on handguns is unconstitutional. The opinion, delivered by Scalia, in which Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito joined, holds that:
- The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
- Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
- The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense.
Stevens filed a dissenting opinion joined by Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer. Breyer also filed a dissenting opinion in which Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg joined.
- High court strikes down gun ban, CNN
- Court Affirms Right to Own Guns, WSJ
- Justices Rule for Individual Gun Rights, NY Times
[RJ & JH]
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