SCOTUS: You Actually Do Have Second Amendment Rights

| June 28, 2010 | 2 Replies

This is a big deal.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday extended gun rights to every state and city in the nation in a ruling involving Chicago’s 28-year-old handgun ban.

By a 5-4 vote and splitting along conservative and liberal lines, the nation’s highest court extended its landmark 2008 ruling that individual Americans have a constitutional right to own guns to all the cities and states for the first time.

The right to bear arms, under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, previously applied to just federal laws and federal enclaves, like Washington D.C., where the court struck down a similar handgun ban in its 2008 ruling.

What this means, essentially, is that the Second Amendment means exactly what it says — you have the right to keep and bear arms. Your right to do so belongs to you and no government may entirely deprive you of it, even if its reason for doing so is the laughable claim that it must ban guns to keep you safe. I’m baffled that four SCOTUS justices disagreed on that point, as is the Heritage Foundation, but I suppose ideology is everywhere, even among the supposedly non-partisan.

Now, this decision doesn’t mean that states and local governments can’t craft reasonable restrictions for gun ownership. Indeed, the Court’s decision sends the Chicago law back to a lower court so that it can reconsider its ruling with this SCOTUS decision in mind. Given the decisive SCOTUS opinion, the Chicago gun ban is almost certainly toast but as Washington, DC did after the Heller decision, I don’t doubt that the city of Chicago will attempt to pass a fairly restrictive law that stops short of an outright ban.

In other words, you do have a right to keep and bear arms, but your government also has the ability to make exercising that right quite difficult. That’s not all bad. At least now our innate right is protected while the details of how we can use that right is subject to the democratic process. I rather like that arrangement even if it cuts against me sometimes.

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