U.S. SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS D.C. GUN BAN, CITES“SELF-DEFENSE” AS PART OF SECOND AMENDMENT
ATLANTA/WASHINGTON, DC: The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) today applauds the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in what has been described as “the most significant Second Amendment case in the nation’s history.” District of Columbia v. Heller (No. 07-290). The high court upheld the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decision in March, which struck down the District’s total ban on handgun ownership as unconstitutional.
SLF participated in the case, submitting a friend of the court brief arguing specifically that women, the elderly, and the disabled would be particularly harmed by government having the power to ban handguns. Citing historical records, criminal statistics, and relevant constitutional holdings, SLF pointed out handguns are a significant deterrent against criminals who target members of society that may have difficulty utilizing rifles or shotguns.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the 5-4 majority, made clear that “it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.” Scalia found that, “[i]n sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.” The majority further held that, as a result of its decision, the District of Columbia must now permit handgun owners to register the weapons and must issue licenses to carry handguns in the home – both of which were forbidden or otherwise prevented by the District’s statute and practice.
“This is a significant endorsement of the historical viewpoint that the Second Amendment guarantees the lawful ownership of guns by law-abiding citizens, particularly for self-defense,” said Shannon L. Goessling, SLF executive director and chief legal counsel. “We’re pleased the Court adopted the view that ‘immediate self-defense’ by means of a handgun is a paramount concern for millions of Americans, particularly women, the elderly and the physically disabled.”
SLF represented the following organizations and individuals in its brief: Southeastern Legal Foundation, Women Against Gun Control, Second Amendment Sisters (a gun rights advocacy organization), 60-Plus (a seniors’ organization), Robert B. Smith, J.D., Christie Davies, M.A., Ph.D., Joe Michael Cobb, and Minnie Lee Faulkner (an elderly woman who successfully deterred a home invasion and rape with use of her handgun).
“The Supreme Court has vindicated a key constitutional right to adequate self-defense through the lawful ownership and use of handguns,” said Goessling. “More importantly, the Court has clarified in a way it has never done before the contours of the Second Amendment, which should dilute much of the scare tactics and hyperbole forced on the national dialogue by many in the gun control movement.”