With another closely decided 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that state governments are not able to ban most Americans from owning most types of handguns.
The court ruled that firearms are "essential for self-defense." The court found that if the Second Amendment indeed protects an individual right to own a gun, the notion that the government can't ban all handguns is the minimum protection the Constitution can offer.
Yet, just as with abortion, this is the first of what is likely to be a long string of court decisions.
The decision is an important win for Americans who want the right to self-defense, but the decision also indicates how many questions still must be answered.
When the Heller decision was handed down in 2008 striking down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban and gunlock regulations, Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley predicted disaster.
He said that overturning the gun ban was "a very frightening decision" and predicted more deaths along with Wild West-style shootouts and that people "are going to take a gun and they are going to end their lives in a family dispute." Washington’s Mayor Adrian Fenty similarly warned: "More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence."
Yet, Armageddon never arrived. . . .
A copy of the decision is available here.
Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and other liberals, wrote: "I can find nothing in the Second Amendment’s text, history, or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as 'fundamental' insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes . . .
"In my view, taking Heller as a given, the Fourteenth Amendment does not incorporate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for purposes of private self- defense."
Amazing. I don't know how they can write what they do with the Alito decision documenting the debate over the 14th Amendment.
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