District of Columbia v. Heller


ACRU Staff


March 18, 2008

The Supreme Court heard oral argument on March 18, 2008 in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Heller is a Federal security guard employed during the day to help protect the Federal judiciary at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, DC. During the workday, he wears a handgun. He applied for a permit to keep a handgun at his home in Washington, DC for self-defense. But his application was denied because under DC law all such applications are denied with only very limited exceptions, as handguns have been effectively banned in DC since 1976. Heller then sued the District arguing that this handgun ban violates his right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This is potentially an historic landmark decision because it squarely presents the issue of whether that Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, or just some right relating to state militias. The Supreme Court has never decided that issue before. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Second Amendment did protect such an individual right, and held that the DC gun control statute banning handguns was in violation of that right. The court consequently struck down the DC handgun ban as unconstitutional. That decision is now on appeal before the Supreme Court. The transcript of the oral argument in the case is posted at the link below.




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