Phoenix--The Goldwater Institute applauded today's U.S. Supreme Court decision on the right of gun ownership. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled in the District of Columbia v. Heller case that individuals have a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. This ruling recognizes for the first time the fundamental right to gun ownership, squarely rejecting the idea that the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment only protects a collective right to serve in a state militia.
"The Supreme Court has embraced the understanding of the Framers and Ratifiers of the Constitution-that the individual right to keep and bear arms is at the core of the Bill of Rights," said Nick Dranias, Director of the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Government. "The decision not only strikes down gun regulations in Washington, D.C., its sweeping language should spark efforts to strike down similar gun bans across the country."
The Goldwater Institute filed a significant brief in the case which began in February 2003 when six Washington, D.C. residents filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the District of Columbia's Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975. In addition to restricting residents from owning handguns, the law mandated that all other firearms be kept unloaded, disassembled, and locked.
Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia wrote, "And whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it [the Constitution] surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home."
The Department of Justice filed a brief in the case suggesting that the Court didn't have enough facts to decide the merits of the case. In response the Goldwater Institute submitted a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the right to keep and bear arms is so important that the Court could assume all of the District's facts were true and still strike down the gun ban.
The Heller case was the first Second Amendment case the Supreme Court heard in 69 years. The last gun rights case was the 1939 case United States v. Miller.
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