Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Rules on Right to Bear Arms

The Supreme Court today, in a 5-4 decision, held that the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution protects an individual’s right to have a gun, not just the right of the states to maintain militias. Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority of the Supreme Court said that “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home” is unconstitutional.

The significance of the decision is that the Supreme Court for the first time acknowledged that that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right that belongs to the people and not just the States. The case struck down a Washington DC law that prohibited ownership of handguns. The decision is going to have a significant impact in places such as Chicago, San Francisco and other cities that have hand gun prohibitions.

However, the Court did state that "the decision does not mean, for instance, that laws against carrying concealed weapons are to be swept aside" (or) . . ."the court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Unfortunately the Court did not give guidance as what are reasonable restrictions are constitutional. However, the Court acknowledged that one decision alone can not address all of the issues associated with gun control. It appears that there will much more case law in the coming future to iron out what restrictions are and are not constitutional.

Although the decision and the dissent was 157 pages long, the Court placed a great deal of emphasis on the fact that hand guns are used by Americans to defend themselves and their families in their homes and the 2nd amendment in no way limits the right to self protection and self-preservation.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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