Breaking: SCOTUS to Hear DC Gun Case

Many have been waiting with great anticipation about whether the US Supreme Court would hear this case, the outcome of which has far reaching Second Amendment implications:

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms” in nearly 70 years.

The justices’ decision to hear the case could make the divisive debate over guns an issue in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment. Tuesday’s announcement was widely expected, especially after both the District and the man who challenged the handgun ban asked for the high court review.

The main issue before the justices is whether the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual’s right to own guns or instead merely sets forth the collective right of states to maintain militias. The former interpretation would permit fewer restrictions on gun ownership.

Gun-control advocates say the Second amendment was intended to insure that states could maintain militias, a response to 18th century fears of an all-powerful national government. Gun rights proponents contend the amendment gives individuals the right to keep guns for private uses, including self-defense.

This case will cast a large shadow over the presidential election as well. Regarding the GOP primary, Rudy Giuliani has routinely been an advocate for gun control as mayor of New York, which is one of the reasons why conservatives are leery of him. But with this issue now on the front burner, he’s going to have to address it, and in a way that will make conservatives comfortable. Now that Rudy’s earning some acceptance from more conservatives because of his toughness on national security and in spite of his stance on abortion, he’s got to be very careful to not blow it completely regarding this issue.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog distills this entire case down to this issue:

“Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

Lyle also notes this about the above sentence:

Some observers who read the Court’s order closely may suggest that the Court is already inclined toward an “individual rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment. That is because the order asks whether the three provisions of the D.C. gun control law violate “the Second Amendment rights of individuals.” But that phrasing may reveal very little about whether the Amendment embraces an individual right to have a gun for private use. Only individuals, of course, would be serving in the militia, and there is no doubt that the Second Amendment provides those individuals a right to have a gun for that type of service. The question the Court will be deciding is, if there are individuals who want to keep pistols for use at home, does the Second Amendment guarantee them that right. Just because the Second Amendment protects some individual right does not settle the nature of that right.

Allahpundit at Hot Air at first predicted that, with Kennedy being the deciding factor, the SCOTUS would rule that individual gun ownership doesn’t meet the standard of “well regulated militia” but then later opined that perhaps Chief Justice Roberts just might be able to turn this issue into a federalist issue, meaning, that the definition of “well regulated militia” is something that individual states should be defining.

Update: Rudy Giuliani’s campaign has issued this statement about the SCOTUS’ decision to hear this case:

“I strongly believe that Judge Silberman’s decision deserves to be upheld by the Supreme Court. The Parker decision is an excellent example of a judge looking to find the meaning of the words in the Constitution, not what he would like them to mean.”

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