Where Does the Supreme Court Stand on Gun Control? District of Columbia v. Heller


The recent tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, has reignited the debate over the most effective means to deter gun violence. As the President Obama and Congress begin to tackle the controversial issue of gun control, they will undoubtedly look to the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. It states, in relevant part: “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.”

While the U.S. Supreme Court had addressed the Second Amendment several times in the course of our country’s history, its more recent decision in District of Columbia v. Heller will likely carry the most weight. The landmark case was the first to consider an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

The Facts of the Case

The case involved a gun law in the District of Columbia that made it a crime to carry an unregistered firearm and prohibited the registration of handguns, thereby essentially banning them. It further required requires residents to keep their lawfully owned firearms, such as registered long guns, “unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device” unless they were located in a place of business or are being used for lawful recreational activities.

After his application to register a handgun to keep at home was denied, Dick Heller, a D.C. special policeman, filed the lawsuit. He challenged the regulatory scheme on Second Amendment grounds, arguing that it prohibited the use of “functional firearms within the home.”

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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