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Heller and Back

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 25 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2009 Pages: 106-112
David B. Kopel; Paul H. Blackman
Date Published
February 2009
7 pages
This study examined the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller which invalidated the Nation’s most restrictive gun law.
Extensive legal research confirmed a standard model of the second amendment: the Founders’ intended to recognize and protect a preexisting individual right to own and use firearms for self-defense. Heller and his associates challenged the most restrictive gun law in the Nation; only a few other jurisdictions (Chicago and five of its suburbs) banned handguns, and no legislative body, except the DC City Council, had banned the use of registered, legally owned guns for self-defense in the home. Also since the District of Columbia is part of the Federal Government (the DC City Council’s powers are only those that are granted by Congress), there is no question that the Bill of Rights applies to it. Most, but not all, of the Bill of Rights has been made enforceable against States by incorporation into the 14th amendment. The majority opinion on Heller indicated that some restrictive gun laws, however poor as public policy are probably constitutional. Under the threat of congressional action, the DC City Council in September 2008 passed an emergency bill to repeal the semiautomatic and self-defense bans. But that law only has a temporary effect, and it remains to be seen whether the District of Columbia will permanently comply with the Heller decision. A new court challenge to the DC laws has already been filed by Mr. Heller, again as one of the plaintiffs. There is a good chance that the city’s ordinance will be overturned at the Federal circuit court appeals level, with the Supreme Court declining further review. References