A year ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a blockbuster opinion that overturned a gun control regulation on Second Amendment grounds for the first time.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will review that historic decision with oral argument in District of Columbia v. Heller. Meanwhile, an avalanche of 67 amicus briefs, posted at www.dcguncase.com, has produced perhaps the nations best repository of Second Amendment legal scholarship. A Goldwater Institute brief is among them.
The High Court has not considered a Second Amendment case since 1939. This time around, gun rights advocates are hoping for an unequivocal pronouncement of what the Second Amendment means.
Does the right to keep and bear arms belong to us as individuals, or does the Constitution merely establish the power of the states to arm the members of their militias? If the right is individual, what exactly are the contours of that right? Can the District of Columbias total ban on all handguns at all times in all homes possibly be constitutional? If not, what kinds of gun regulations will pass muster, and how rigorously will the courts scrutinize legislatively enacted restrictions?
The Second Amendment is an integral part of the Bill of Rights. It secures a meaningful individual right, a sphere of individual autonomy into which the state may not intrude without good reason and great care. Acknowledging this right does not spell anarchy, but it does mean that law-abiding adult citizens are entitled to keep ordinary functional firearms in their own homes, for self-defense.
Robert A. Levy is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and serves as co-counsel to Mr. Heller. Mr. Levy will be at the Goldwater Institute on April 17 to discuss his new book, The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom."
Mr. Levy will discuss the case at the April 16 meeting of the Federalist Society. For more information, go to www.fed-soc.org and click on the Arizona chapter.
Boston Globe: Fighting for Our Rights to Bear Arms