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Supreme Court Upholds Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms

by @ 10:48 am on June 26, 2008. Filed under Individual Liberty, Supreme Court

After nearly two centuries of silence, the Supreme Court today struck down a District of Columbia gun ban and affirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices’ first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court’s 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.”

Yes, that’s right Justice Stevens, they did. It’s called the Second Amendment.

While the devil is, as always, in the details and, as I noted in March, this is far from the end of the Constitutional debate about gun control, this is, all in all, a great day for individual liberty.

3 Responses to “Supreme Court Upholds Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms”

  1. tfr says:

    Yah, if you read the Post article, Scalia is quoted:

    “… the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table”

    So I guess he anticipated the dissenting opinion.
    It’s scary that perhaps 4 of 9 justices feel that NO tool should be off limits to elected officials.

  2. James Young says:

    Were the majority a little more forthright, Justice Stevens might have been forced to observe that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to protect the right of revolution to overthrow oppressive government.”

    Of course, then the implicit and inevitable link between gun-grabbers and big government types would have been made a little too clear for the polis.

  3. [...] over a month after the United States Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, the man who brought that case is suing the District again over it’s response to the Supreme [...]

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