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“Supreme Court Update: The Second Amendment”

アメリカ 弁護士 法律事務所 法律  Supreme Court Update: The Second AmendmentIn the much publicized "gun control case," District of Columbia v. Heller, the modern Supreme Court took the first stab at defining the Second Amendment in over 60 years. Heller involved a challenge to gun-control regulations in the District of Columbia that were some of the toughest in the country: essentially banning all private handguns and requiring that firearms be kept locked in an inoperable condition. The question presented to the Supreme Court was whether these regulations violated the Second Amendment.

In its 5-4 decision, the Court held that the D.C. regulations were unconstitutional under an "individual" reading of the Second Amendment. This means that the Second Amendment right to bear arms now protects the right of individuals -"the people"-to keep firearms for their own self-defense or other private use. The Court majority rejected the argument that the Second Amendment was only meant to protect the right of the states to form and arm an official state-run militia.

So what does this mean for the everyday American? Immediately-not a great deal. Because of the way Justice Scalia wrote the decision, the Court left open the possibility that certain gun regulations will still not be barred by the Second Amendment: for example, laws governing the disarming of convicted felons, creating "gun-free zones," and banning short-barreled shotguns. It will take some time for cases about these specifics to make their way through the various court systems before we really understand the impact of Heller.

(Fall 2008)

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