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District of Columbia v. Heller

(2008)

Supreme Court of the United States - 554 U.S. 570

tl;dr:

The second amendment applies as a right for individuals against the federal government.

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ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for District of Columbia v. Heller

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Facts & HoldingDistrict of Columbia v. Heller case brief facts & holding

Facts:A DC law effectively banned the possession of handguns. DC is...

Holding:Looked to the Second Amendment’s text & historyThe operative clause...

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District of Columbia v. Heller | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Justice Scalia
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The Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess firearms for lawful purposes, including self-defense within the home. This right is not limited to militia service and is subject to reasonable regulations. The "well-regulated militia" refers to physically capable males who can act together for the common defense, and the phrase "security of a free State" refers to the security of a free country or polity. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure a well-armed militia, which requires citizens to be able to exercise themselves in the use of warlike weapons. The right to keep and bear arms extends to all people and is not limited to the militia, subject to certain restrictions. The government can exclude certain individuals from the militia, but Congress retains plenary authority to organize it.

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Dissenting opinion, author: Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Souter, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer
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The dissenting opinion argues that the Second Amendment only protects the right to bear arms for military purposes and state militias, not for self-defense or criminal activity. The Court's current opinion lacks new evidence to support the view that the Second Amendment limits Congress's power to regulate civilian use of weapons. The right to keep and bear arms protects only a right to possess and use firearms in connection with service in a state-organized militia. The historical context of the Second Amendment supports the conclusion that it was intended to protect the right to bear arms in the context of military service.

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Dissenting opinion, author: Justice Breyer, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice
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Justice Breyer had a different opinion than the other judges in the case. Justice Stevens agreed with Justice Breyer's opinion.

Dissenting opinion, author: Souter, and Justice Ginsburg
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The case concerns the constitutionality of three firearm restrictions in the District of Columbia. The majority opinion holds that the law prohibiting the possession of handguns in the home violates the Second Amendment, while the dissenting opinion argues that the law is a permissible legislative response to high crime rates in urban areas. The dissenting opinion suggests a proportionality approach that balances competing interests in gun regulation cases. The second firearm restriction requires that a firearm be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device, except when kept at a place of business or used for lawful recreational purposes. The only dispute is whether the Constitution requires an exception for self-defense, which the District concedes exists. The third restriction prohibits most people in the District from possessing handguns by prohibiting their registration. The dissenting opinion argues that the law would not have allowed a homeowner to immediately use a gun against an intruder and provides historical examples of gun regulation in colonial cities.

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