Answering a 127-year old constitutional question, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have a gun, at least in one’s home. The Court, splitting 5-4, struck down a District of Columbia ban on handgun possession.
In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the Court nullified two provisions of the city of Washington’s strict 1976 gun control law: a flat ban on possessing a gun in one’s home, and a requirement that any gun — except one kept at a business — must be unloaded and disassembled or have a trigger lock in place. The Court said it was not passing on a part of the law requiring that guns be licensed. It said that issuing a license to a handgun owner, so the weapon can be used at home, would be a sufficient remedy for the Second Amendment violatrion of denying any access to a handgun.
Best from the opinion:
The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
As Justice Scalia put it, whatever remains for “future evaluation” about the strength of the right, “it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”
However, all is not perfect:
Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.