PHOENIX — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today the right to bear arms, which is guaranteed by the Second Amendment, also applies to states and local governments and not just federal jurisdictions such as Washington D.C. and national parks. The Goldwater Institute had urged the Court to take this step with a friend of the court brief filed in McDonald v. City of Chicago.
“We will celebrate the independence of the United States later this week, so it’s fitting the Supreme Court has upheld the right to bear arms as a fundamental liberty, without which there would have been no American revolution,” said Nick Dranias, director of constitutional policy at the Goldwater Institute and author of the amicus brief.
Last year, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in D.C. v. Heller confirming that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own or possess a weapon, and striking down a ban on handgun ownership in Washington, D.C. That ruling applied to Congress and federal agencies such as the District of Columbia, but not necessarily to state or municipal governments.
In today’s decision, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court majority that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of the due process of law extended the guarantees of the Second Amendment to the states. Justice Alito’s opinion echoes Goldwater’s amicus brief by relying heavily on the Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1866 as the “most explicit evidence” that Congress wanted to protect the right to armed self-defense from being undermined by state and local governments.
“No state or city should have the power to deny any law-abiding American access to a firearm for self-defense,” said Mr. Dranias.
Mr. Dranias will discuss the implications of the McDonald and Heller decisions and the future of gun rights in the United States during a live web chat on Thursday, July 8, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. Arizona time at www.goldwaterinstitute.org.
The Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation filed this amicus brief in partnership with the Wyoming Liberty Group.
Learn more about McDonald v. Chicago and other Goldwater cases to protect individual rights and keep government within its constitutional limits at www.goldwaterinstitute.org/litigation. The Goldwater Institute is a research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.