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Thursday, June 26, 2008

WE Are The Well Regulated Militia

Supreme Court Says Americans Have Right To Guns
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense in their homes, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms restrictions intact.

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: "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."

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.

The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled, but left intact the licensing of guns.
Praise be! Justice Kennedy was (finally) on the correct side of a ruling this term. We're safe again until Monday, October 6, 2008. Favorite parts: Scalia noted that the handgun is Americans' preferred weapon of self-defense in part because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police." and ...whatever remains for “future evaluation” about the strength of the right, “it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”

You can find the PDF of the opinion at SCOTUSblog: What Congress did in drafting the Amendment, the Court said, was “to codify a pre-existing right, rather than to fashion a new one.”

Gabriel (apparently my new "go to guy" for legalish stuff) has more:
The ruling: the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have firearms. The prefatory clause, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,”merely announces the amendment’s purpose, but does not affect the operative clause, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

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