Huge SCOTUS victory for Gun Rights (updated)

In one of the most significant constitutional rulings handed down in many years, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, has ruled (opinion here) that individual Americans have a right to protect themselves with a firearm under the 2nd Amendment.

It is the first time in the 218 year history of the United States that the Supreme Court has ruled on individual
gun rights:

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home."

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority "would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons."

He said such evidence "is nowhere to be found."

More study is needed to determine just how sweeping the ruling might be. Does it affect other gun control efforts? Did the Justices leave a little room for regulators?

But that is small potatoes to the stunning nature of the ruling itself. It settled the longest argument perhaps in American history; just what does the 2nd Amendment mean when it talks about a "well regulated" militia? A majority of the justices say that it includes the issue of self defense in the home - a breakthrough aknowledgement of an individual's absolute right to own a handgun for purposes of protecting his life and property.

If Barack Obama is elected, chances are the makeup of the Supreme Court as well as its mission will change dramatically. Reason enough for many on the right to consider swallowing their disagreements with McCain and voting him in.

Otherwise, decisions like this one will be few and far between.

Thomas Lifson adds:

No doubt theree will be a wave of litigation testing the limits of governmental regulation of firearms.  

Scalia said nothing in Thursday's ruling should ''cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.''

So what is a "sensitive place"? Clearly, the entire District of Columbia does not qualify.

Now that the Court has identified gun rights as a personal right, the ACLU ought to begin defending individual rights. If they were honestly devoted to protecting the Bill of Rights.

Bookworm looks through the decision and notes:

Scalia is a wonderful writer — lucid and simple.  He complete avoids the turgid, serpentine, incredibly boring prose that routinely characterizes opinions by O’Connor (Ret.), Ginsberg, and Stevens.  This opinion is actually written in English a lay person can understand.

Interestingly, thinking about it, the worst writers are always the activists:  Ginsberg, Stevens, O’Connor, etc.  I suspect that, since their arguments are so often not bounded by actual American law, they have to throw up huge, wordy, impenetrable smoke-screens to hide that fact.  The strict constructionists, who are writing within a sound framework, have no need to hide or dissemble.

In one of the most significant constitutional rulings handed down in many years, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, has ruled (opinion here) that individual Americans have a right to protect themselves with a firearm under the 2nd Amendment.

It is the first time in the 218 year history of the United States that the Supreme Court has ruled on individual
gun rights:

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home."

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority "would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons."

He said such evidence "is nowhere to be found."

More study is needed to determine just how sweeping the ruling might be. Does it affect other gun control efforts? Did the Justices leave a little room for regulators?

But that is small potatoes to the stunning nature of the ruling itself. It settled the longest argument perhaps in American history; just what does the 2nd Amendment mean when it talks about a "well regulated" militia? A majority of the justices say that it includes the issue of self defense in the home - a breakthrough aknowledgement of an individual's absolute right to own a handgun for purposes of protecting his life and property.

If Barack Obama is elected, chances are the makeup of the Supreme Court as well as its mission will change dramatically. Reason enough for many on the right to consider swallowing their disagreements with McCain and voting him in.

Otherwise, decisions like this one will be few and far between.

Thomas Lifson adds:

No doubt theree will be a wave of litigation testing the limits of governmental regulation of firearms.  

Scalia said nothing in Thursday's ruling should ''cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.''

So what is a "sensitive place"? Clearly, the entire District of Columbia does not qualify.

Now that the Court has identified gun rights as a personal right, the ACLU ought to begin defending individual rights. If they were honestly devoted to protecting the Bill of Rights.

Bookworm looks through the decision and notes:

Scalia is a wonderful writer — lucid and simple.  He complete avoids the turgid, serpentine, incredibly boring prose that routinely characterizes opinions by O’Connor (Ret.), Ginsberg, and Stevens.  This opinion is actually written in English a lay person can understand.

Interestingly, thinking about it, the worst writers are always the activists:  Ginsberg, Stevens, O’Connor, etc.  I suspect that, since their arguments are so often not bounded by actual American law, they have to throw up huge, wordy, impenetrable smoke-screens to hide that fact.  The strict constructionists, who are writing within a sound framework, have no need to hide or dissemble.