The Supreme Court today ruled on District of Columbia v. Heller and ended up striking down Washington DC's 32 year old gun ban as unconstitutional.
The full opinion,written by Justice Scalia is here
The Court split along its normal ideological lines, with Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alioto and Scalia joined by swing voter Justice Kennedy in overturning the ban and Justices Souter, Ginsberg, Breyer and Stevens voting against.
The case involved Dick Anthony Heller, 66, an armed security guard,who sued the District after it rejected his application to keep a handgun at his home for protection.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Heller's favor and struck down Washington's handgun ban, saying that DC's gun laws violated the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees Americans the right to own guns.
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."
Here's a money quote from Justice Scalia's majority opinion:
“In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.”
In other words, the District of Columbia is legally required to allow people to own handguns and keep them in their homes assembled and and ready for use (the DC ban permitted ownership of rifles and shotguns, but required them to be disassembled or kept inoperable). Not only that, but phony permit systems that allow people to apply but only but only actually grant permits to well-connected people and celebrities are also illegal.
Look for NRA financed challenges to existing laws in a number of localities. And about time, too.
I also find it intriguing that Justice Scalia referred to the right of Americans to carry weapons as being equal to the right to own weapons, thus providing a platform for future challenges to states and localities with laws prohibiting or severely curtailing concealed carry permits.
While Scalia's opinion was quite clear about the fact that the ruling should not Scalia said nothing in Thursday's ruling should "cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings."
What the ruling does state unequivically is that law abiding American citizens have the right to keep and bear arms for their own defense...just like the Second Amendment says.