September 4th, 2007

Landmark Gun Rights Case Headed to U.S. Supreme Court

In the case of Parker v. the District of Columbia, the plaintiffs, including a retired police officer, sued to overturn the District of Columbia law that prohibits residents from owning handguns, even if the guns’ use is confined to one’s domicile. The plaintiffs argued that D.C.’s ultra-restrictive gun laws violated plaintiffs’ rights to “keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The D.C. statute bars residents from keeping handguns in their homes and also prohibits the carrying of a gun without a license.

In March 2007, the Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the District of Columbia law on constitutional grounds. This was a signficant ruling that shocked the mainstream media. The Appellate Court ruling also created the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court would be asked to rule on the case. In its ruling, the Federal Court of Appeals declared:

“…[W]e conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government….”

Parker vs. District of Columbia–Full Case History | News Story on Appellate Court Ruling

On September 4th, the District of Columbia asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals. If the Supreme Court takes the case, it could lead to the high court’s first direct ruling on the Second Amendment since 1939. The court would be asked to interpret the Second Amendment, and squarely determine whether the Second Amendment protects citizens as individuals or whether the right to “keep and bear arms” is “collective”, meaning it applies only to a militia or National Guard.

There remains the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will refuse to hear the appeal, in which case the decision of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals would be final.

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