Heller Of A Decision

On Thursday, June 26, 2008, The US Supreme Court gave its ruling on DC v. Heller. In a 5-4 decision the SCOTUS ruled that the District of Columbia’s gun ban was unconstitutional.

The Majority Opinion held that:

  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.
    1. The Amendments prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clauses text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.
    2. The prefatory clause comports with the Courts interpretation of the operative clause. The militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens militia would be preserved.
    3. The Courts interpretation is confirmed by analogous armsbearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment.
    4. The Second Amendments drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms.
    5. Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Courts conclusion.
    6. None of the Courts precedents forecloses the Courts interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553, nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 264265, refutes the individual rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes.

  2. 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: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Courts 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. Millers holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those in common use at the time finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
  3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The Districts 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 prohibitionin the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most cutewould fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

The full text of the Opinion can be downloaded here.

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4 Responses to “Heller Of A Decision”

  1. Michael Ejercito Says:

    This is great.

    If the Secret Service do not have to keep their weapons unloaded and locked while they are in the White House, then neither should anyone else be required to do the same in their house.

  2. jonolan Says:

    Yes, it’s a great thing. It won’t satisfy some of the gun lovers who view the Constitution as guaranteeing their unregulated in any way right to own whatever firearms / weapons that they can afford, but it meets the basic requirements of protecting the individual American’s right to own such weapons as are needful for his or her own defense.

  3. clif Says:

    Surprising fact: Half of gun deaths are suicides

    The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gun ownership last week focused on citizens’ ability to defend themselves from intruders in their homes. But research shows that surprisingly often, gun owners use the weapons on themselves.

    Suicides accounted for 55 percent of the nation’s nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    There was nothing unique about that year gun-related suicides have outnumbered firearm homicides and accidents for 20 of the last 25 years. In 2005, homicides accounted for 40 percent of gun deaths. Accidents accounted for 3 percent. The remaining 2 percent included legal killings, such as when police do the shooting, and cases that involve undetermined intent.

    Public-health researchers have concluded that in homes where guns are present, the likelihood that someone in the home will die from suicide or homicide is much greater.

    Looks like you need a few more guns there jolonan.

  4. jonolan Says:

    So by what passes for your logic we should drive cars because of all those pesky automobile related deaths and injuries.

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