The Supreme Court, in the final day of its term, today announced the results of DC v. Heller. At issue was a Washington, D.C. ban on possession of handguns as a class of weapons.
From the majority opinion:
1. 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.
3. 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. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition — in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute — would fail constitutional muster.
Note that the first point affirms one interpretation of what has been the single most contentious point of debate among Second Amendment scholars: namely, whether the Second Amendment is — like the rest of the first ten Amendments — individual, or if it is collective in its scope: that is, whether it refers to the right of State governments to organize militias without Federal interference, or to the right of individuals to possess arms without governmental interference.
News on the Opinion
- Majority Opinion, DC v. Heller (pdf, 157pp)
- A Constitutional Right to a Gun, SCOTUS Blog
- Supremes Strike Down D.C. Handgun Ban, Wall Street Journal Legal Blog