Supreme Court and the Second Amendment
Heller was a special police officer in Washington D.C. He was allowed to carry a Handgun as part of his job. Wanting to keep a handgun at his home, he applied for a license with the District of Columbia. They denied the request making heller sue the District For violating his second amendment rights. Based on what the second amendment said the District Court Found that the second amendment does not create an individual right to gun ownership Unrelated to services or organized militia (such as a national guard) With that said the district dismissed the complaint. However, the Court of Appeals found that the second amendment does create an individual right to gun ownership making them reverse the lower court’s decision and eventually taking the case to the Supreme Court (Nov. 20th, 2008). The question was whether the D.C. law prohibiting possession of handguns violates the second amendment to the United States Constitution. On June 26th, 2008
In a narrow 5-4 decision the supreme court decided that the District of Columbia law restricting hellers ability to possess a handgun outside of employment for self-defense violates his 2nd amendment rights. According to Justice Scalia Who was writing for the majority Said that the Second Amendment protected hellers rights to possess a firearm even if it was connected to service in a militia. Scalia concluded that the Second Amendment referred to the need of a well-ordered militia was only an introductory clause indicating the purpose of the amendment but didn’t limit the right to bear arms given in the amendments operative clause. Scalia also concluded that there was nothing in the legislative history of the Constitution, the state constitution enhanced at the same time, or the article in English history showing that the founding fathers intended to limit control gun ownership solely for the militia purposes. Go to majority did allow that the states are free to regulate who can own firearms to address safety concerns. For example, the state can refuse gonna ship to the mentally ill and criminals. However, because Heller did not fall into that category the court found Columbus prohibitions on gun control to be overprotective and was made unconstitutional. Justice Stevens relies on the court’s decision in U.S V. Miller (1939).
In that case, the court said that it was unlawful 2 men to possess a sawed-off shotgun because the purpose has nothing to do with preserving a well-regulated militia. Starve a explained that the individual right to keep and bear arms was designed to be solely for the purpose of presenting a well-regulated militia. Because heller wanted to own the gun for and not as a member of the militia the District of Columbia can restrict such ownership without violating on hellers 2nd amendment rights. Justice Breyer Asserted that the District of Columbia did not violate hellers second amendment because it is not absolute, giving them the power do a restriction. He explained that the court must balance the law placed on an individual’s right to bear arms with the trust of the state. Breyer concludes that the District of Columbia’s Law did not unreasonably interfere with hellers right of self-defense because it’s purpose was to combat the presence of handguns in high crime open areas. And interest was important enough to justify the restrictions District of Columbia versus Heller was the first supreme court case to explore the meaning of the Second Amendment ever since the United States versus Miller in 1939 Heller set the stage for the 2010 case of McDonald versus Chicago in which the Supreme Court expressly held that the second amendment was incorporated against the states (4),(1)