The Right to Bear Arms Gets Its Day in Court

The Right to Bear Arms Gets Its Day in Court

November 3 was a historic day for constitutional rights in the United States, as the U.S. Supreme Court delved into a detailed and sophisticated exploration of the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment’s right to “bear” arms in public places, in a case brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NRA’s affiliated association in New York). In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed what was already clear to most Americans: the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, including handguns, regardless of service in an organized militia. In 2010, the high court ratified the equally straightforward principle that states and localities – and not just the federal government – are bound to respect that right. Since then, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has remained virtually silent on the Second Amendment, with lower courts filling the vacuum by denying most Second Amendment challenges to gun control laws that came before them. It took over 10 years for the high court to revisit the meaning of the Second Amendment in depth. Last Wednesday’s argument proved worth the wait, with the right to keep and bear arms at long last being treated with the dignity and respect accorded other constitutional rights, a treatment notably lacking in many of the lower court cases. As in the 2008 and 2010 cases, it took a particularly unusual and sweeping restriction to command the justices’ attention. Those earlier cases involved what amounted to outright bans on the possession […]

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