The Supreme Court today published its long-awaited and highly anticipated decision in the District of Columbia gun rights case. The primary arguments focused on whether the right to bear arms is an individual right or a collective right attached to the role of an individual in a militia.
The disagreement arises from the wording of the Second Amendment which states, “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.”
One camp interprets the right as a collective right belonging to a militia, in general, while the other camp sees the right as an individual right no different than a number of the other individual rights contained in the Bill of Rights.
Despite the Second Amendment’s prefatory clause, the Supreme Court, in a sharply divided 5-4 decision, came down on the side of the right as being an individual one. However, the Court also let it be known that the right is not absolute – just as other rights are not absolute.
The Court indicated it was not ruling out appropriate regulation of gun ownership such as restrictions against gun ownership by felons and the mentally ill. The Court also indicated it saw no problem with regulating concealment of weapons or bans on such items as assault weapons.
I am anxiously awaiting the publication of the full decision on Lexis which I assume will be sometime yet today. Once it comes out, I will read it, and post “my take” on what the Court said.
So we still have basically the same situation we had before the Court ruled. The only thing that the Court clarified was whether or not gun ownership was an individual right or a collective right. The Court’s decision that it is an individual right makes no changes in the way restrictions are put in place by governmental entities.
The one area that will be impacted is an effort to totally ban weapons within a jurisdiction, but other than that, gun ownership can still be subject to restrictions. This very fact will again lead us to disputes on the type of regulation and the severity of the regulation – issues which may again put us in front of the Court for further clarification.
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