Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Supreme Court Strikes Down DC Handgun Ban
CNSNews ^ | June 26, 2008 | Randy Hall

Posted on 06/26/2008 10:48:22 AM PDT by Mr. Mojo

(CNSNews.com) - In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday made its first definitive pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history by ruling that Americans have the right to own guns for self-defense and hunting.

In the court's majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia said the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes.

But while a person has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, Scalia wrote.

The Supreme Court's last review of the Second Amendment -- which states that "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" -- came in a five-page discussion in an opinion issued in 1939 that failed to definitively resolve the constitutional issue.

Thursday's decision struck down the nation's strictest gun control law, which was adopted in Washington, D.C., 32 years ago and banned private possession of handguns and required that any rifles or shotguns kept at home had to be unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.

Joining Scalia in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. The dissenters were justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens.

In dissent, 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." Such evidence "is nowhere to be found," he stated.

Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."

"The decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States," Breyer said.

'Court rediscovered the Second Amendment'

Strong responses to the decision came from both sides of the gun-control issue.

The case was started by Dick Anthony Heller, an armed private security guard who lives and works in Washington, D.C., but is prohibited from bringing his weapon home at night. He was joined by six other D.C. residents with similar goals.

"Today's decision means that law-abiding citizens in Washington, D.C., finally have a right to defend themselves against violent criminals in their own homes," he said in a news release. After 30 years of ignoring the right of people to keep and bear arms, "the District will finally have to respect it."

"Because private gun ownership is enshrined in our Bill of Rights, politicians cannot ban or regulate guns out of existence," said Alan Gura, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "The Supreme Court fulfilled its duty to protect individual liberty by striking down the city's unconstitutional laws."

"On Thursday, the Court rediscovered the Second Amendment," said co-counsel Robert Levy, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. "Besides being blatantly unconstitutional, the District's gun ban has been totally ineffective."

Still, the ruling is "merely the opening salvo in a series of litigations that will ultimately resolve what weapons and persons can be regulated and what restrictions are permissible," Levy said. "But because of Thursday's decision, the prospects for reviving the original meaning of the Second Amendment are now substantially brighter."

"Today's ruling is a tremendous victory for freedom and the rule of law in America," stated Clark Neily, who also represented the plaintiffs. "It's a case about liberty and the government's obligation to respect constitutional rights that it might prefer to ignore."

But Paul Helmke, head of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, had a different view of the decision in a statement of his own. "It's clear that that what the court did today -- they limited the extremes," he said. "They said that you can no longer have total prohibitions on guns, but they also said you can have reasonable restrictions on guns."

Helmke noted that today's ruling does not erase the many existing limitations on guns -- who may carry them, where they may be carried and conditions of sale, for example.

'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition'

Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, had a different interpretation of the ruling. "'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition' is the best way to describe today's decision," Staver said in a news release.

"The right to self-defense is a liberty at the core of the American Revolution," he noted. "It was ordinary people who defended life and liberty against organized tyranny. The king of Great Britain sought to disarm the colonists because he, like any criminal, knew that a disarmed people are a weak people who can easily be overcome.

"The Second Amendment stands as an impenetrable wall between tyranny and freedom," Staver added.

"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court should forever put to rest any contention that the right to keep and bear arms is not a fundamental, individual civil right," said Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb.

"For six decades, anti-gun rights extremists have engaged in a monumental fraud that has been unfortunately perpetuated by activist judges who erroneously insisted that the right to keep and bear arms applies only to service in a militia," he noted in a news release.

However, Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said that he was "gravely disappointed" with the Court decision.

"With today's ruling against the district's ban on handguns, the Supreme Court has increased the likelihood of violence and injury in the nation's capital," said Benjamin in a statement.

"While our organization supports the individual rights upon which this nation was founded, we believe that this ruling limits the ability of communities to protect its citizens from harm," he noted. "Gun violence is a major public health problem that needs to be addressed through a variety of actions, including legislation and regulation."

Firearms have a profound effect on public health in the United States, Benjamin stated. Each year, thousands die from firearm-related injuries and hundreds of thousands more are injured. The risk of suicide, homicide and fatal gun-related shootings is greater in homes with guns, and in communities with a higher prevalence of guns.

Handguns, in particular, are responsible for the majority of all firearm homicides and suicides, he added.

Nevertheless, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the ruling "the most significant victory for the Second Amendment in recent memory," which "should send a clear message to opponents of gun rights."

"The Constitution plainly guarantees the solemn right to keep and bear arms, and the whims of politically correct bureaucrats cannot take it away," Boehner said.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the high court agreed last November to hear the case after an appeals court decision overturned the ban six months earlier.

Second Amendment supporters said they felt "optimistic" after presenting oral arguments in the case last March, but visitors and residents of the District of Columbia expressed mixed feelings to Cybercast News Service during man-on-the-street interviews conducted earlier this week.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption
KEYWORDS: banglist; heller; parker
"The decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States," Breyer said.

That's precisely the idea, Stevie.

1 posted on 06/26/2008 10:50:17 AM PDT by Mr. Mojo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo

Let’s hope and pray the Obamanation doesn’t get in.

We need more judges like Scalia, Alito, Ronerts and Thomas.


2 posted on 06/26/2008 10:55:54 AM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts and guns made America great.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
But while a person has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, Scalia wrote.

Uh, since when is the 2nd Amendment particularly NEW??

3 posted on 06/26/2008 10:59:43 AM PDT by Paul Ross (Ronald Reagan-1987:"We are always willing to be trade partners but never trade patsies.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
In dissent, 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." Such evidence "is nowhere to be found," he stated.

"Shall not be infringed" can be hard to understand for some people. "Infringed", after all, is two syllables.

Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."

Umm. Oooookay. Steve, move into a house in a crime-ridden urban area. See if your position changes.

"The decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States," Breyer said.

cool.

4 posted on 06/26/2008 10:59:55 AM PDT by Tribune7 (How is inflicting pain and death on an innocent, helpless human being for profit, moral?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo

The District of Columbia had a weak argument for keeping the ban. They cited high murder rate, but the rate when higher after the ban. Can’t win me over with that type of logic.


5 posted on 06/26/2008 11:01:21 AM PDT by baltoga
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZULU
But while a person has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, Scalia wrote.

"new" right? Is this an error - did Scalia call it a "new" right?

That's rather ominous, actually - I still think we're begging for crumbs from the SCotUS table, they just happened to give us one THIS time.
6 posted on 06/26/2008 11:01:25 AM PDT by beezdotcom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: beezdotcom; Paul Ross
I suspect it's an error by the author (Randy Hall). ...a major one.
7 posted on 06/26/2008 11:02:55 AM PDT by Mr. Mojo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Paul Ross

“But while a person has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, Scalia wrote.
Uh, since when is the 2nd Amendment particularly NEW??”

Yeah, I don’t quite understand that statement. Is he leaving doors open?


8 posted on 06/26/2008 11:06:49 AM PDT by TribalPrincess2U
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
Americans have the right to own guns for self-defense and hunting.

The individual right to keep and bear arms is not limited to self-defense or hunting, yet this is how it's being spun. Pisses me off!

9 posted on 06/26/2008 11:13:41 AM PDT by Buffalo Bob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Buffalo Bob

5 to 4 runling? Gee, what a surprise!


10 posted on 06/26/2008 11:15:12 AM PDT by TommyDale (I) (Never forget the Republicans who voted for illegal immigrant amnesty in 2007!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: TribalPrincess2U
Yeah, I don’t quite understand that statement. Is he leaving doors open?

From what I can tell, that phrase is nowhere to be found in the actual opinion, but originated with Reuters' James Vicini. The words "new right" do not even appear. Obviously Mr. Vicini thinks that we did not used to have a constitutional right to bear arms and he projected his bias onto Scalia's opinion. Mad libs lol.
11 posted on 06/26/2008 11:15:58 AM PDT by messierhunter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: TribalPrincess2U; Paul Ross

My guess is that the adjective “new” was not found in Justice Scalia’s opinion in reference to the right of citizens with regard to gun ownership, that it was inserted by the author of this article.


12 posted on 06/26/2008 11:27:56 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo

Regardless of what the “Brady Bunch” may say in their little press releases today, they know in their hearts they’re defeated, since the fundamental ruling here is that, yes Virginia, there IS a Second Amendment, and it means just what it plainly says.

(Slap, slap) Take that! Justice Stevens!


13 posted on 06/26/2008 11:31:47 AM PDT by Redbob ("WWJBD" ="What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo; Tribune7
"In dissent, 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." Such evidence "is nowhere to be found," he stated."

The express purpose of the Bill of Rights and specifically the definition of such rights expressed in the Second Amendment is to "limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to" limit the rights of citizens to engage in the conduct or acts described.

That's what the Second Amendment is in the book to do. The language in the dissent is just silly.

14 posted on 06/26/2008 11:32:33 AM PDT by David (...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
""The decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States," Breyer said."

One of the few things Breyer has ever gotten completely right!

15 posted on 06/26/2008 11:33:13 AM PDT by Redbob ("WWJBD" ="What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
In dissent, 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." Such evidence "is nowhere to be found," he stated.

I find this a little disturbing coming from a Supreme Court justice, frankly. The entire Constitution is nothing but a collection of choices to limit the tools available to elected officials. What on earth does "Congress shall make no law" mean in the First Amendment but a limitation on the tools available to elected officials? What is the entire Bill of Rights but a limitation on the tools available to elected officials?

In point of fact, it's bad law to refuse to overturn bad law because it might be inconvenient. Moreover, the government is not run for the convenience of its occupants, hard as that might be to grasp from the vantage point of Washington DC.

16 posted on 06/26/2008 11:34:13 AM PDT by Billthedrill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: David

LOL! 90 seconds. GMTA.


17 posted on 06/26/2008 11:35:39 AM PDT by Billthedrill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: TommyDale
5 to 4 runling? Gee, what a surprise! Not a surprise. It's downright scary when you think about it. The power Judges have assumed over the years is frighting. The fact that only five out of nine beleive the 2nd admendment means what it says, is incomprehensible. The American people have allowed the court to invent rights. The people shouldn't be surprised when the day comes, the court removes a right.
18 posted on 06/26/2008 11:35:48 AM PDT by oflyboy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."

EVERY citizen should have the tools to defend themselves, ESPECIALLY in crime ridden urban areas. I would think that the more folks actually have that ability to defend themselves, there won't be as much crime, because the criminals won't have free reign. They might be much less likely to try kicking in some old lady's door if they weren't sure whether or not she had a nice little gun to ventilate them when they did. ;o)

19 posted on 06/26/2008 11:37:24 AM PDT by SuziQ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: beezdotcom
"But while a person has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, Scalia wrote."

What Scalia actually wrote is this:

"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..."

20 posted on 06/26/2008 11:38:50 AM PDT by Redbob ("WWJBD" ="What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: David
"The language in the dissent is just silly."

You've GOT to read the whole decision:
Scalia as much as said Stevens' dissent was "silly" in more than one place!

I'm thinking there's no love lost between those two!

21 posted on 06/26/2008 11:41:16 AM PDT by Redbob ("WWJBD" ="What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: ZULU
Let’s hope and pray the Obamanation doesn’t get in.
We need more judges like Scalia, Alito, Ronerts and Thomas.

AMEN!! We're only just now getting out from under over 30 years of liberal judicial activism. I'd sure hate to be back under it for another 30 years, and if Obama is elected President, at least two of the liberal Justices would resign immediately. Ginsburg and Stevens have held off resigning, because they didn't want President Bush to be the one to name their replacements. Obama would appoint replacements for them who are just as liberal, or more so, and change the balance of the court in one fell swoop.

John McCain may not be the most conservative person, but he's already said he'd appoint justices who would not be judicial activists, and he'd be encouraged to do so to assuage the conservative base.

22 posted on 06/26/2008 11:45:06 AM PDT by SuziQ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo

yeah the decision of the majority does not surprise me. what does surprise me, however, is just how severely wrong the minority is in the dissent. scary that justices worthy of respect could wish to infringe our rights so egregiously.


23 posted on 06/26/2008 11:46:26 AM PDT by thefactor (the innocent shall not suffer nor the guilty go free...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: baltoga

I wonder if the mayor of DC will now organize a hit squad to go around, increasing the numbers of fire arms kills to support his position?


24 posted on 06/26/2008 11:48:18 AM PDT by Redleg Duke ("All gave some, and some gave all!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo

This is the way the leftist judges look at their decisions.

What will be the effect of deciding one way or another?
Will that effect be desirable (to me)?
If so, rule for, if not, rule against. Then find justification through whatever tortured logic you can.

Conservative judges:
What did the Constitution mean (to the public) on this point when it was ratified?
Rule based on that, regardless of personal opinion.


25 posted on 06/26/2008 11:51:32 AM PDT by MrB (You can't reason people out of a position that they didn't use reason to get into in the first place)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Redbob; beezdotcom

That author took some liberties didn’t he.


26 posted on 06/26/2008 11:52:13 AM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists...call 'em what you will...They ALL have fairies livin' in their trees.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."

Yeah, no one needs to protect themselves in crime-ridden areas. Stevie should crawl out of his ivory tower once in a while and visit one of these areas.

27 posted on 06/26/2008 11:52:45 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
"The decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States," Breyer said.

Well, one would hope so.

28 posted on 06/26/2008 12:00:47 PM PDT by paul51 (11 September 2001 - Never forget)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Billthedrill

Something that is clearly evident to a con-law student has evaded this great legal mind.


29 posted on 06/26/2008 12:06:04 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Buffalo Bob
The individual right to keep and bear arms is not limited to self-defense or hunting, yet this is how it's being spun. Pisses me off!

"...the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes." I would expect that "traditionally lawful purposes" includes taking whatever steps are necessary to maintain proficiency with weapons. The bottom line is that the battles about gun use are going to have to be fought at the local and state level. There will always be voting with your feet.

Hopefully this will seriously demoralize the gun control morons.

30 posted on 06/26/2008 12:13:27 PM PDT by Stentor (Obama supporters. Letting the little void do the thinking for the big void.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: TribalPrincess2U; Paul Ross

My guess is that the adjective “new” was not found in Justice Scalia’s opinion in reference to the right of citizens with regard to gun ownership, that it was inserted by the author of this article.


31 posted on 06/26/2008 12:16:48 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."

Absolutely priceless! This guy has no business sitting in a position of authority.

32 posted on 06/26/2008 12:41:05 PM PDT by beltfed308 (Heller: The defining moment of our Republic)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: beltfed308

Ditto.


33 posted on 06/26/2008 12:49:06 PM PDT by Dante3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Mojo
"With today's ruling against the district's ban on handguns, the Supreme Court has increased the likelihood of violence and injury in the nation's capital," said Benjamin in a statement.

Now all he needs to do is fabricate the data to go along with this ridiculous assertion.

At least no one was killed in DC when guns were banned. /sarcasm

Another point that keeps getting lost in the left-wing media, is that the Bill of Rights in the Constitution doesn't document rights granted to us by the government, it documents rights granted to us by God, that the government can't infringe on.

To the 5 Supremes who brought us this ruling,

YAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!

34 posted on 06/26/2008 12:56:59 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: beezdotcom

Didn’t he refer to modern guns in that sense?


35 posted on 06/26/2008 1:32:00 PM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts and guns made America great.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Straight Vermonter

There’s that selective reasoning the leftist are so good at.


36 posted on 06/26/2008 2:45:34 PM PDT by TribalPrincess2U
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Redbob

But while a person has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, Scalia wrote.”
What Scalia actually wrote is this:

“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...”

Oh I see, another leftist reporter putting words in someone’s mouth to suit his objectives?


37 posted on 06/26/2008 2:48:28 PM PDT by TribalPrincess2U
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: beezdotcom
"new" right? Is this an error - did Scalia call it a "new" right?

Justice Scalia most emphatically did not call the 2d Amendment new, this is deliberately sloppy writing on the part of the "journalist"...

the infowarrior

38 posted on 06/26/2008 4:59:21 PM PDT by infowarrior
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: thefactor
scary that justices worthy of respect could wish to infringe our rights so egregiously.

Sorry, but if they are willing to do the latter, then they're most definitely *not* "worthy" of the former, QED...

the infowarrior

39 posted on 06/26/2008 5:03:15 PM PDT by infowarrior
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Redleg Duke

No doubt reactions are strong on both sides. However, the problem D.C. has faced is not getting a suspect when a homicide occurs. Why? law abiding citizens are afraid to speak because they can’t defend themselves. The SCOTUS ruling now changes the dynamics and I expect more citizens to speakout and get these punks off the street - for good!


40 posted on 06/26/2008 8:54:11 PM PDT by baltoga
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson