District of Columbia v. Heller

The Second Amendment

“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.”

Who could have guessed that twenty-seven words on a piece of parchment would result in so much controversy.

In 2003, six residents of the District, including Dick Heller, filed a lawsuit challenging a ban on the ownership of handguns. The suit was dismissed by the District Court. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the decision, stating that the ban violated the Second Amendment guarantee of the individual right to keep and bear arms.

In November 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Oral aguments were heard on March 18 of this year and a decision is expected to be rendered sometime in June which begins tomorrow.

I fully expect the justices to rule that gun ownership is an individual right, but may be regulated in the name of public safety. Very similarly to the common interpretation of the First Amendment. Then we will spend the next several decades litigating over what constitutes reasonable regulation.

There are some who will continue to insist we only have the right to own a musket because that is all the founders had. Such a bogus argument. Much in the same way as arguing that the guarantees of freedom of the press and freedom of speech in the First Amendment do not apply to radio, television and the Internet because those did not exist in the 1790s.

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