On March 18, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in District of Columbia v. Heller, a case the Court has stated is “limited to the following question: Whether Washington, D.C.’s bans [on handguns, on having guns in operable condition in the home and on carrying guns within the home] violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes.”
Most in the Supreme Court chamber seemed to agree that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. The issues that were most in contention included the meaning of the words “keep” and “bear,” and whether the amendment protects the possession of arms only during militia service or also for self-defense; whether a total ban on handguns is a “reasonable” regulation of firearms; whether restrictions on the right to arms should be subject to “strict scrutiny,” or legislatures or courts should be able to decide what is “reasonable;” and what kinds of regulations would be “reasonable” under the Second Amendment.
By John R. Lott, Jr. and Maxim C. Lott
For gun control proponents and opponents a lot is riding on a former security guard for the Supreme Court Annex. The Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns and its requirement than any rifles or shotguns remain locked violates the plaintiff’s, Dick Heller’s, constitutional rights.
Whatever the court decides, no one expects them to end gun control any more than the First Amendment’s “congress shall make no laws” has prevented the passage of campaign finance regulations. The decision is likely to be limited to just whether a ban “infringed” on “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
If the DC ban is accepted by the court, it is hard to believe that any gun regulation will ever be struck down. If the court strikes it down, where the courts draw the line on what laws are considered “reasonable” regulations will take years to sort out.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday took up gun control, hearing arguments concerning a District of Columbia ban on handguns more than two centuries after the Second Amendment gave Americans the right to “keep and bear arms.”
Lawyers for both sides tried to strike a moderate tone before the court, arguing that there was an individual right to own a weapon, but that governments could impose reasonable gun-control legislation.
Alan Gura, arguing against the ban on Tuesday before the court said the city “simply doesn’t trust the people to protect themselves in their homes.”
But Walter Dellinger, a lawyer for the District of Columbia, said there should be a “a reasonable standard” to allow cities to pass gun-control legislation. Listen to highlights from each side’s argument »
More than 100 people stood in line outside the court for a chance at one of the few seats to hear the arguments in person.
Jason McCrory and his friends were the first in line, having arrived Sunday.
He said he supports “the right of people to keep and bear arms… to protect themselves against the dangers they are presented with.”
But Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pennsylvania, said before the hearing that the government had the right to limit gun ownership. Video Watch how life experiences are shaping the arguments »
“There should be reasonable control for access to guns and particularly handguns,” he said. “Even if [the Supreme Court finds] that people have the right to bear arms, governments have a right to reasonable controls on firearms — where and under what circumstances people have a right to have them.”