November 29, 2014
District of Colombia v. Heller
The District of Columbia had a law banning all handguns. Dick Heller challenged this law in 2008, on the grounds of the Second Amendment. This was the first time that the Supreme Court had regarded what it meant for an individual’s right to possess weapons for private uses, including self-defense. The District of Columbia had banned handguns, making it a place with one of the strictest gun laws. The District of Columbia also had a law that entailed for any long gun to be disassembled, trigger-locked, or kept unloaded. Dick Heller believed that these laws desecrated the Second Amendment and removed his right to be able to defend himself in a time of maltreatment. Heller based his lawsuit on his constitutional right to have and carry arms under the Second Amendment.
Dick Heller was a District of Columbia special police officer, who was authorized do carry a handgun while he was on duty. He wished to keep a handgun at home and register for certification in order to keep him and his family safe if an issue ever arose, but the District of Columbia refused. On Second Amendment grounds, Heller filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court to allow for handguns, the licensing requirement that prohibits the carrying of a firearm in the home without a license, and the trigger-lock requirement of firearms within one’s home to be abolished. His complaint was dismissed in the Federal District Court.
The Second Amendment states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment is divided by the prefatory clause and the operative clause. The prefatory clause states within it, “security of a free state”. A free state consists of a nation or community. Able bodied individuals who are trained and organized have the right to possess arms to resist harm. The operative clause describes the right of the people. “The militia” is to be looked at as individuals who are male, able bodied, and within a certain age. The operative clause leads to the point that the Second Amendment stands for all Americans. The Second Amendment is a pre-existing right and guarantees one’s right to possess a firearm and to use the firearm for a lawful purpose, including self-defense in one’s home.
The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Jun 26, 2008. The provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 were viewed unconstitutional. Handguns were determined to be considered arms under the Second Amendment and it was found that the Regulations Act was an unconstitutional ban.
There are several other lower courts that attach on to this case. Shelly Parker was a software designer and a nurse. She was a single woman and wanted to stop feeling like she was being threatened by drug dealers within her neighborhood, who would also try to break into her home. Tom Palmer was the only plaintiff that knew Robert A. Levy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and the co-counsel for Heller’s case, before the case began. Palmer had been in an altercation where he felt the need to defend himself with a handgun. When Palmer drew his gun in the altercation, the gang that was harassing him fled and he believes that his handgun saved his life. Gillian St. Lawrence was a mortgage broker. She owns several legally registered long guns for recreation which took her nearly two years to register. She felt it was necessary to feel safe and be able to defend herself in her home and she wanted to purchase a handgun for this purpose. Tracy Hanson was an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She lived with her husband in a high crime neighborhood and wanted to possess a handgun in her home for defense and security. George Lyon was a communication lawyer who had contacted the National Rifle Association due to filing a...
Cited: "District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290)." District of Columbia v. Heller. LII / Legal Information Institute. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
"DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER." District of Columbia v. Heller. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
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