Supreme Court Rules against D.C. Gun-Control Law
On June 26, by handing down a 5-4 decision in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which had struck down provisions of the District's Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 as unconstitutional. The act restricted residents from owning handguns--except for those "grandfathered" in by registration prior to 1975 or held by active or retired law-enforcement officers. Additionally, the law required that even rifles and shotguns be kept "unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock."
Speaking for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home."
The decision will very likely be seen as a victory by most Second Amendment defenders because it will set a precedent challenging some of the most oppressive gun-control laws in our nation's urban areas. The majority opinion also provided some valuable lessons to Americans (including other courts). Justice Scalia observed that the individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted. While the Heller case dealt with a use for firearms most familiar to modern Americans--"self-defense in the home"--the majority opinion also addressed a more fundamental reason why our Founders drafted the amendment: "There are many reasons why the militia was thought to be 'necessary to the security of a free state. …