Second Amendment victory

What a relief!

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment says what it says:

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court says Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court's 5-4 ruling strikes down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision goes further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.

I haven't read it, so I don't know how true that last sentence is.

Volokh's server seems overwhelmed, but so far, Orin Kerr has this to say:

The opinion should be available shortly. In a case like this, the details of the opinion are critical; it will take a bit of time to read the decision to get a sense of what it means. SCOTUSblog is reporting that the vote was 5-4, with Scalia writing and the four liberal Justices dissenting.
Glenn Reynolds is teaching a class, but remarks,
Did the Supreme Court get things right? We'll know soon enough! Er, well, you'll probably know a bit before I do, today. . . .
I hope they got it right, but throwing the DC law out was at least a step in the right direction.

The Supreme Court blog has some selected quotes from the opinion, including this:

"Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command."

"We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans."

"the most natural reading of 'keep Arms' in the Second Amendment is to "have weapons."

"The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity."

"Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation."

"Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose."

"The prefatory clause does not suggest that preserving the militia was the only reason Americans valued the ancient right; most undoubtedly thought it even more important for self-defense and hunting."

"It was plainly the understanding in the post-Civil War Congress that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to use arms for self-defense."

MORE: Here's an interesting headline:

Supreme Court Decision Hits Bull's Eye Against Obama Anti-Gun Agenda, says John Snyder of Telum Associates, LL.C.

MORE: Real Clear Politics reports that John McCain is praising the decision:

"Today's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans," McCain said in a statement.

The GOP nominee couldn't resist the opportunity to take a shot at rival Barack Obama: "Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly."

Barack Obama, meanwhile, is remaining silent:
Obama's campaign has not yet released a statement on the opinion.
I guess he can claim that he hasn't had time to read it for the next few months.

UPDATE: The text of the opinion in PDF is here.

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Bob Owen notes a comment (apparently from liberal blogger named David Ehrenstein) to the effect that Justice Scalia should be shot.

While I don't think Ehrenstein's remark typifies liberal thinking, I nonetheless find myself wondering whether people who react to disagreements by wanting to shoot people might be likely to project their lack of self control onto others, and thus be very fearful of allowing anyone to own a gun.

MORE: I am delighted to see the blogosphere was a factor in the decision. Not only did the majority cite Eugene Volokh, Randy Barnett, and Erik Jaffe, but they also cited Clayton Cramer.

At p. 15, they cite our paper! Yahoo!
While I don't expect to read about it in most newspapers, the Supreme Court's relying on bloggers is big news in itself.

MORE: Orin Kerr comments on the narrow scope of the ruling, and its limitations:

My basic thought after reading Justice Scalia's majority opinion is that it is relatively narrow -- in the sense that it leaves a lot for another day. It recognizes the individual right (citing, by my count, 3 articles by Eugene and one by Randy, not that we academics count such things), but does not resolve the degrees of scrutiny, does not address incorporation, and indicates (without establishing) that traditional gun restriction laws are valid.
The Volokh site is back, so keep going there for more.

MORE: Barack Obama now says that it the Second Amendment is an individual right, and that it has been his position all along.

Hmmm.....

posted by Eric on 06.26.08 at 10:42 AM










Comments

I certainly hope Chicago is next!

Bob Mulroy   ·  June 26, 2008 11:33 AM

I really want to see what the four dissenters have to say - that the 2A does not confirm and individual right, or that it does, subject to common sense restrictions. If the former, very bad news despite the majority opinion, since it puts us one heart attack away (to use the nearly hysterical claim by the abortion lobby) from losing that right.

If the latter, not so bad but still worrisome, since classing an effective total ban as "common sense" is fatuous.

So I am, at this point, more interested in seeing what the dissenting opinion is.

Steve Skubinna   ·  June 26, 2008 12:49 PM

From the STEVENS dissent:

The question presented by this case is not whether theSecond Amendment protects a “collective right” or an“individual right.” Surely it protects a right that can be enforced by individuals. But a conclusion that the Second Amendment protects an individual right does not tell us anything about the scope of that right.

And from the BREYER dissent:

The Amendment protects an “individual” right—i.e., one that is separately possessed, and may be separately enforced, by each person on whom it is conferred.

Both Stevens and Breyer think it's an individual right, but should be interpreted in the militia context.

Eric Scheie   ·  June 26, 2008 1:09 PM

Hmmm. I guess the hysterical liberal did not notice that anyone shooting the justice would have to have possession of a firearm, thereby violating the very law he supports so fervently. Hey, pal, can you spell "hypocrite"?

Bleepless   ·  June 26, 2008 6:42 PM

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