3/18/2008

Reaction to DC Gun Ban Case

A copy of the oral arguments can be found here.

The Washington Post's summary is here:

A majority of the Supreme Court indicated a readiness yesterday to settle decades of constitutional debate over the meaning of the Second Amendment by declaring that it provides an individual right to own a gun for self-defense.

Such a finding could doom the District of Columbia's ban on private handgun possession, the country's toughest gun-control law, and significantly change the tone and direction of the nation's political battles over gun control.

During oral arguments that drew spectators who had waited for days to be in the courtroom, there was far more skepticism among the justices about the constitutionality of the District's ban on private handgun possession than defense of it. . . .


The WSJ summarized the arguments this way:

The Supreme Court appeared ready for the first time to read the Second Amendment as entitling individuals to keep firearms for private purposes, during the high court's first hearing on the controversial provision in nearly seven decades. At the same time, the justices appeared split over what regulations government can impose on that right.


The NY Times came to the same conclusion:

A majority of the Supreme Court appeared ready on Tuesday to embrace, for the first time in the country’s history, an interpretation of the Second Amendment that protects the right to own a gun for personal use.

That may be the easy part.

The harder question in the case challenging the District of Columbia’s handgun ban is determining what kind of restrictions the government could constitutionally place, in the name of public safety, on the newly recognized right. The answer to that question, on which the outcome of the case will turn, was less clear.


These statements correspond to my feelings on the arguments.

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