The Supreme Court has ended the long debate. For the first time in the nation’s history, the United States Constitution officially and specifically protects your individual right to bear arms, as a result of this morning’s 5-4 decision in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290. The court’s landmark ruling declares: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
Dick Anthony Heller, who carries a handgun for his job guarding federal judiciary offices, wanted to keep his gun at home. The District of Columbia said no, based on a 1976 law making it virtually impossible to legally possess a handgun in the nation’s capital. In March, 2007, a United States Court of Appeals overturned the city ordinance. And now, writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia declares that the Constitution does not allow “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,” thus rendering the D.C. ban unconstitutional.
For gun owners and gun-rights advocates, today’s decision is a monumental victory. But then there’s the fine print:
In defining the Second Amendment’s hazy language for the first time and concluding that the right to bear arms belongs to the individual (and not just to states for maintaining militias), the court has ended one debate. In stating that the right is not absolute, however, it no doubt sparks many more. Today is a triumph. But the fight ain’t over.