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NRA And U.S. Lawmakers Join <I>D.C. V. Heller</I> Plaintiffs In Filing Briefs With U.S. Supreme Court

Friday, February 8, 2008

On Thursday, February 7, NRA and the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund submitted an amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. This "friend of the court" brief supports a lower federal appeals court decision holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and asserts that the D.C. bans on handguns, on carrying firearms within the home, and on possession of loaded or operable firearms for self-defense violate that fundamental right. 

The NRA brief follows Heller's own brief, filed Feb. 4.  Several other pro-Second Amendment individuals and organizations, including an overwhelming majority of state attorneys general, will also be filing briefs today and Monday in favor of affirming the D.C. Circuit's decision.  

"We want to return hope and we want to return freedom to our nation's capital. After this ban was enacted, D.C.'s murder rate tripled, and the city was labeled 'murder capital of the United States'," said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. "The irony of this gun ban is that it has resulted in criminals having guns while denying law-abiding citizens their basic right to self defense in their own homes."  

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that "[T]he phrase 'the right of the people,' when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual." The D.C. Circuit also rejected the claim that the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because D.C. is not a state. This case marks the first time a Second Amendment challenge to a firearm law has reached the Supreme Court since 1939.  

"It is beyond unreasonable to prevent law-abiding residents from using a firearm to protect themselves and their loved ones in their own homes, and that is clearly not what our founding fathers intended in crafting the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," added Chris W. Cox, NRA's chief lobbyist. "The American people--whether Democrat or Republican, urban or rural--know that the Second Amendment was not written to give a right to the government, but rather to guarantee the fundamental right of individual citizens."  

As stated in the NRA brief:  

"In adopting the Second Amendment, the Framers guaranteed an individual right to keep and bear arms for private purposes, not a collective right to keep and bear arms only in connection with state militia service."  

* * *

"By its terms, the Amendment protects the right 'of the people' to keep and bear arms. The holder of the right is unambiguous: it is not the States, it is 'the people' themselves."  

* * *

"Americans' personal right to possess . . . firearms for hunting or self-defense was part of the essence of the Framers' view of themselves as a free and democratic people. Had Americans in 1787 been told that the federal government could ban the frontiersman in his log cabin, or the city merchant living above his store, from keeping firearms to provide for and protect himself and his family, it is hard to imagine that the Constitution would have been ratified."  

The NRA's counsel of record on the brief is Stephen D. Poss of Goodwin Procter LLP.  

Click here to read NRA's brief.  All the briefs and other filings in the case are available at


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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.