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Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Time Event
9:31a
Yess!
Per New York Times web: "Supreme Court Rules That Individuals Have Gun Rights".

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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."

Now, the question will be how to interpret the latter part, and we will have to wait for the detailed ruling for guidance there.

Frankly, this is a better decision than I had hoped for. The argument for individual rights was very strong, and the "collective right" argument very weak. What I had mostly expected, however, was a "judgment of Solomon," in which the Court would have declared an individual right, but managed to interpret the District of Columbia law to preserve it. This did not happen. Justice Scalia writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home." Proponents of the law, which requires that even licensed guns be kept locked up and/or disassembled even in the owner's home, argued that it was not technically a 'complete' ban, since you could possess a firearm (just not in a condition that made it usable in case of emergency). Opponents of the law argued that this was in effect a complete abrogation of the right to keep and bear arms for purposes of self-defense, and evidently the five justices in the majority agreed with that proposition.

I don't expect that this will make a lot of difference in local gun laws except in those areas like Washington D.C., New York City, and Chicago, that have extremely restrictive laws on the books. I predict a lot of litigation forthcoming in those areas.

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