SUPREME COURT – GUN OWNERSHIP IS INDIVIDUAL RIGHT SUBJECT TO REGULATION

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.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Gun Control, Guns, Second Amendment, Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to SUPREME COURT – GUN OWNERSHIP IS INDIVIDUAL RIGHT SUBJECT TO REGULATION

  1. Jeff Pruitt says:

    Charlotte,

    I’m interested in your reading. Not to taint your opinion but I actually think the SCOTUS ruling was reasonable to most people (not necessarily to me as I don’t think they went far enough). While striking down a complete ban as unconstitutional they did seem to suggest that other regulations – i.e. background checks among others – were reasonable.

    I would caution you into reading too far into the ruling. I do not necessarily believe they “saw no problem with bans on such items as assault weapons”…

  2. Jeff:

    I must have really given others an inaccurate view of how I feel about guns. I hate them myself, but I have never advocated for a ban on guns. I have always felt that they should be regulated and that there was nothing wrong with requiring background checks or some other measure to ensure that the purchaser is “checked out” before the purchase is made final.

    I am not upset with the Court’s decision. The main issue was the determination over whether the right to bear arms was an individual right or a collective right.

    Some of my statements yesterday were taken from the TV news as they reported the decision early in the morning. I couldn’t find much about the opinion as I wrote the post.

    I am just now getting ready to read the decision. The entire opinion is 61 pages long, so I ran off the majority opinion first. I will read the dissent later since dissents often contain some interesting points as well.

    So I am off to the front porch swing with my coffee for a bit of reading. I am sure my take on the opinion will not be that out of line even given my position that guns should be regulated. I don’t see much to dispute. The Court found an individual right, but it also made clear that it was not an absolute right. 🙂

  3. ice-ironman says:

    I dont know how the 9 leaders of the country or anyone else can misinterpret the 2nd. It says the right of the PEOPLE not militia to own guns. This does change thngs big time. DCs ban on individuals having guns in their homes will go down. NY city bans carring handguns, this will be overturned by the NRA, same with San Fransicko and Chicago. This is huge. the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” I bet Mugabes citizens wish they had our constitution. Maybe he wouldnt be so cocky.

  4. Ice-ironman:

    The amendment has not been interpreted for almost 70 years (last time was 1939 in Miller), so it really hasn’t been analyzed in any major way for quite some time.

    I completely understand how the amendment was interpreted in the past since those who put the Bill of Rights in place chose to use a prefatory clause indicating that the right was attached to a militia.

    If you look at Indiana’s Constitution, the following is how our legislature worded it in passing our Constitution:
    __________________________________________________________
    Ind. Const. Art. 1, § 32

    § 32. Right to bear arms.

    The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.
    __________________________________________________________

    Our legislature left no doubt that the right was an individual right that could also be used as a collective right in a military unit. If that had been the intent of the authors of the federal Bill of Rights, they could have worded the amendment that way – they didn’t, and that is what has led to speculation about the right as individual or collective.

    The other interesting thing about the right to bear arms under the Indiana constitution is the order in which the right was placed. Indiana’s Bill of Rights contains 37 items – the right to bear arms is 32. Quite far down on the list of what the legislators were really saw as important.

    As I mentioned in my post, the decision will only change the way we analyze gun control regulations. Those existing regulations and any future regulations will now be subject to review by the courts as to whether or not they are constitutional.

  5. ice-ironman says:

    We can debate but common sence say what it says. It doesnt say the right of a militia to own arms, it says the PEOPLE. And Im glad it was a close vote because it will inspire conservatives to vote this fall. Obama will have to run in circles. I cant believe 5 people in the US are making all the laws for the country.

  6. Common sense is determined by those in power. As you noted, five people are making laws for the country. If the ruling had been the other way, and one justice had joined the other side, we would be arguing that the prefatory clause controlled the operative clause and the right would have been collective not individual.

    I don’t think most people will bother to understand the importance of Supreme Court appointments. Most voters do not enter the voting booth thinking about the next Supreme Court appointments. They enter thinking about the economy, jobs, making ends meet, etc.

  7. ice-ironman says:

    I would say you may be off on the common man and the supreme court. The more radicle and leftist decisions made will wake up Joe voter. In fact. I dont like Mcain but now with a 4-5 vote I see I cant skip this election. The supreme court will be a major factor in the election especialy with the age of the wackos. If only the framers would have know there would be rich lawyers with nothing better to do then tear down the constitution instead of reading it. They would have spelled it out as if speaking to an 8 year old so as to be clear on the meanings. As it is written now it can be torn down by the ilk that uses the reasoning of “it depends on the definition of what is is”. I guess Im just not an elitist liberal that wants to make law from the bench. Ps not that you are but the ones fighting against the death penalty, spying, and emminet domain are most certainly elitist libs.

  8. Jeff Pruitt says:

    I’m glad we have a few “liberals” on the bench that still believe in the 4th amendment and habeus corpus…

  9. Bobett Kelley says:

    We all should uphold “our constitutional 2nd
    Amendment right.”

    The point is we have the right to protect our family and all others against harms way.

    It extends beyond this. Yet why limit us Americans to protect our homes from harms way?

    Yet think we will never have to defend ourselves?

  10. Bobett Kelley says:

    My point is we should always extend the same curosity as we share with family members.

    Shelter, protect, love & guide one another.

    Yes defend one another with arms….guns.

  11. ice-ironman says:

    Not one law abiding citizen has committed a crime with any gun. Just a little something to think about. Swimming pools kill more than guns- should we ban those?

  12. ice-ironman says:

    By the way Jeff, the one job I count on the govt for is protection from enemies. Not health care, not social securtity, not any liberal social programs. I count on them for servailence. You see I am too busy working to spy on people- that is their job. I saddend that my children are more at risk because you dont like wire tapping. This is truely a case where the founders had no clue where technology would be. So now we need to make it quicker and easier (not an easy task considering it is the govt) to get information. I hope we can do a little adjusting to make our country safer.

    PS are you glad there are liberals on the bench that say it is fine to take away land for a stronger city tax base? Are you happy we cant serve justice to the worst rapist in the world?

  13. Jeff Pruitt says:

    I actually believe in the entirety of the Constitution. Just because technology has made it easier for the government to spy on its citizens doesn’t mean they have the right to do so. They can spy on foreign countries as there’s nothing in the Constitution that forbids it.

    I thought the Kelo decision was horrible. Taking private property to give to another private individual is abhorrent.

    I do not believe in the death penalty so I sided with the court in that case. Our justice system is not infallible and as such it cannot be trusted to sentence people to death. On top of that I do not believe the state should be in the business of killing people instead of incarcerating them. I think the death penalty is wholly immoral…

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