Friday, June 27, 2008

SCOTUS Strikes Down D.C. Ban on Handguns

ARRA News Service: Today, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision stuck down the District of Columbia's ban on handgun ownership as unconstitutional and ruled that the Second Amendment, one of our guaranteed rights, protects a person's right to own guns for self-defense not just for being in a militia. The court also said that the requirement that lawful weapons be rendered inoperable, by trigger locks or disassembled, was unconstitutional because it rendered the weapons useless for self-defense. Those justices ruling in the majority were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony M. Kennedy, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Antonin Scalia. Resenting were Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and John Paul Stevens.

Some of the key points made by Justice Scalia writing for the majority were:
  • “The court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
  • “Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”
  • Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain previously filed his own brief in support of the plaintiff in the case, DC security guard Dick Heller. McCain applauded the decision: "Today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right - sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly." Democrat Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has a dismal record supporting gun rights. Last year, a spokesman for his campaign said that Senator Obama felt the tough DC gun law was constitutional. However, in reacting to the Court's decision, Obama said that supporting gun rights and some gun controls was not a contradiction.

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