Sorry, I just remembered . . . I am armed

SupCt agrees to hear DC gun ban case:

In a decision that could affect gun control laws across the nation, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to carry a gun….

The Supreme Court agreed to step in because the issue has caused a deep split in the lower courts. While a majority of courts have said that the right to bear arms refers in connection to service in a state militia, two federal courts have said the amendment protects an individual’s right to keep a gun.

One of those courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, went as far as striking down a decades-long ban on the private ownership of handguns in the District of Columbia. It is this case the court has agreed to consider.

The district will argue that the Second Amendment does not prevent the city from enacting reasonable regulations to limit gun possessions in order to protect residents.

The petition raises one question: “whether the Second Amendment forbids the District of Columbia from banning private possession of handguns while allowing possession of rifles and shotguns.”

As noted in the article, the Supremes have not looked at the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment in almost 70 years. And, owing in part to the peculiar circumstances of that case, what they gave us in Miller was essentially a Rorschach Test on gun rights: Whichever position one prefers, one can find in Miller what one wants to find, provided one looks for nothing else.

Clearly, it’s long since past time for a definitive ruling on the issue.

UPDATE: The Court’s order states that the question before it is as follows:

Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

So we will be getting a Second Amendment ruling, absent a decision based solely on procedural issues or a (very unlikley) retraction of cert.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Law and the Courts, Supreme Court, , , ,
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.


  1. Anderson says:

    The decision may turn out to be much narrower than anyone thinks, unless someone’s seriously plumping for the “I can own any weapon, period” position … which ain’t gonna make it. No Stinger missiles, folks.

    Once that’s eliminated, the question becomes whether the Court has to reach any far-flung conclusion about the nature of the Amendment, or else can just hold that, WHATEVER it means, it doesn’t mean that D.C. can’t let you have rifles and shotguns but ban handguns.

  2. Dodd says:

    The Court may well go for the narrowest holding it can; it usually does. But the question presented rests squarely on a finding that the Second Amendment protects and individual right. Histrionic straw men about stinger missiles aside, the Court will have a difficult time ruling on the question before it without affirming or overruling that finding.

    Note, BTW, that the first sentence of the quoted article is erronerous: The question is most emphatically not “whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to carry a gun” but, rather whether it protects the right to own one and keep it in finctional condition in one’s own home. Determining how that might have ended up misstated by ABC is left as an exercise for the reader.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    Thinking about it in political terms, probably next June we will have a ruling. The candidates will have long been decided, even if the conventions haven’t been held.

    If the court in a 5-4 upholds the DC gun ban, it will energize the right. It will likely solidifies the mountain west, south (e.g. Virginia) and some of the Midwest (e.g. Missouri) for the GOP.

    If the court in a 5-4 strikes down the DC gun ban, it will energize the left, but I don’t think to the same amount.

    For both sides, it will emphasize that the next president is likely to appoint one or two supreme court justices. Since the replacements are most likely on the left (Stevens, Ginsberg, Breyer, Souter) or in the middle (Kennedy), the impact is likely to be felt on the left not getting the court to impose what they can’t achieve by legislative means.

  4. Dodd says:

    A ruling affirming the DC Circuit will have an effect on the Left, but I can’t see it as a large one, either. They want a win pretty badly already; this won’t change that.

    Thus, I can’t see it becoming a major campaign issue because when Democrats run on gun control, they lose. It’s no accident they’ve all but avoided the issue the last couple/three cycles.