There have been two decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) in the last 4 years about the Second Amendment. I am going to discuss both and how they could affect any attempt to legislate away that important right. The first is District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008). This decision is going to be very important in crafting or fighting any legislation that should come out from Obama’s commission on the subject, as it deals with an outright ban on handguns.
D.C. law prohibited the possession of handguns, registration of handguns, and required that lawfully owned firearms (not handguns) be, “unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device”. Dick Heller, was a D.C. special police officer and carried a handgun while on duty at the Federal Judicial Center. When he applied to register it to keep at home, he was turned down.
As we are all well aware, the Second Amendment says: “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.” Seems simple enough, but this case has two very different views about those words. One side believes that only the right to possess and carry a firearm in connection with militia service is protected. The other that it protects an individual right to possess a firearm, and use of the firearm is for traditionally lawful purposes, such as defending your home and family. SCOTUS agreed with the latter and defends its majority position in two ways: first, through looking at the actual language of the Amendment, and second through its history.
The full version of this column is now only available in Doug Giles’ book, “Sandy Hook Massacre: When Seconds Count, The Police Are Minutes Away”.