Supreme Court Rules on gun control, Second Amendment


Some gun owners are applauding the SCOTUS decision on the Second Amendment today. Image from Flickr.

In the final decision of the Supreme Court of the United States this session, the Supreme Court position on gun control has been clarified. The ruling strikes down many city and state bans on handguns, though it does leave the door open for carefully worded legislation that restricts gun ownership. The McDonald vs. Chicago decision is a clarification to last year’s striking down of the Washington D.C. handgun ban.

The Supreme Court gun decision

The Supreme Court’s decision on gun ownership and the Second Amendment is the second in the last few years. McDonald vs. Chicago challenged Chicago’s very restrictive ban on individuals owning handguns. A few years ago, the Supreme Court gun ruling indicated that Washington D.C., a federal district, could not ban handgun ownership. This gun ruling clarified that the same standard applies to cities and states. Writing for the 5-4 majority, justice Samuel Alito stated that “self-defense is a basic right… individual self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment.”

Supreme Court leaves door open for gun legislation

While the Supreme court gun decision does make handgun bans unconstitutional, it leaves the door open for further legislation and litigation. The majority opinion restates the 2008 caveat that “recognized that the right to keep and bear arms is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” In other words, cities, states and the federal government does still have the right to legislate and limit guns. Where exactly that right butts up against the Second Amendment is still to be determined.

Other Supreme Court decisions

On the last day of Justice John Paul Stevens’ 34-year service on the court, the Supreme Court rendered decisions on more than just guns. Mcdonald vs. Chicago is the most high-profile constitutional rights case, but several others were decided. First, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was ruled unconstitutional. This is a board that was designed in 2002 to audit public companies, in response to the failure of Enron and WorldCon. The fix for this unconstitutionality, however, is simple; the Securities and Exchange Commission must be given more control. The court also rendered decisions in Bilski v. Kappos, which denied a patent for a strategy in hedging financial risk. Finally, the court agreed that public universities do not have to recognize student groups that discriminate.

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