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Pulling the Trigger: Evaluating Criminal Gun Laws in a Post-Heller World

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 49 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2012 Pages: 1599-1622
Jeff Golimowski
Date Published
24 pages
This article evaluates criminal gun laws following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.
This article examines criminal gun laws following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Court ruled that U.S. citizens have an individual right to possess guns under the second amendment. The article begins with discussion of the background of the case, the limited scope under which the case was brought before the Court, and how the finding in this case allowed for a successful attempt to extend the reasoning of Heller to apply to State judges findings in gun law cases. This successful attempt was the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago. The article also addresses the problems resulting from the Heller decision's lack of clear direction from the Court on how lower courts should interpret local and State gun laws in light of Heller. The author presents an overview of several cases that show how Heller's list of presumptively lawful measures does not always allow for the proper interpretation of the law as it regards the second amendment. The author also presents a framework for making the findings in Heller more explicit. This framework includes identifying the core right of the second amendment, identifying measures that do not address the core right of the second amendment, and strictly scrutinizing local and State gun laws to determine whether the law is the least restrictive way for the government to accomplish its purported goal. The final section of the article use the proposed framework to examine gun laws in relation to domestic violence misdemeanants, guns in public housing projects, and concealed carry permits and laws.