Supreme Court Declares That the Second Amendment Guarantees an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms -- June 26, 2008
Fairfax, VA – Leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA) praised the Supreme Court’s historic ruling overturning Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns and on self-defense in the home, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller.
“This is a great moment in American history. It vindicates individual Americans all over this country who have always known that this is their freedom worth protecting,” declared NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “Our founding fathers wrote and intended the Second Amendment to be an individual right. The Supreme Court has now acknowledged it. The Second Amendment as an individual right now becomes a real permanent part of American Constitutional law.”
Last year, the District of Columbia appealed a Court of Appeals ruling affirming that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the District’s bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home and possession of functional firearms for self-defense violate that fundamental right.
“Anti-gun politicians can no longer deny that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right,” said NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox. “All law-abiding Americans have a fundamental, God-given right to defend themselves in their homes. Washington, D.C. must now respect that right.”
Read the opinion (1 MB)
Highlights From The Heller Decision
On March 18, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in District of Columbia v. Heller.
Listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments (RealPlayer required)
View the transcript
The Court announced its decision to take the case in which plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the District's gun ban last Fall. The District of Columbia appealed a lower court’s ruling last year affirming that the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the District’s bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home, and possession of loaded or operable firearms for self-defense violate that right.
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.
The case marks the first time a Second Amendment challenge to a firearm law has reached the Supreme Court since 1939.
Briefs filed on behalf of Heller and Washington D.C.
- Brief of Dick Anthony Heller
- Brief of District of Columbia and Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia
- Reply Brief of District of Columbia and Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia
Amicus brief filed by the United States
Amicus briefs filed in support of Heller
Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Dick Anthony Heller in the upcoming case District of Columbia v. Heller.
- National Rifle Association
- Academics for the Second Amendment
- Alaska Outdoor Council
- American Center for Law and Justice
- American Civil Rights Union
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
- Buckeye Firearms Foundation, et al.
- Cato Institute and Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm
- Center for Individual Freedom
- Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
- Congress of Racial Equality
- Disabled Veterans for Self-Defense
- Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund
- Former Justice Department officials
- Foundation for Free Expression
- Foundation for Moral Law
- Goldwater Institute
- Grass Roots of South Carolina
- Gun Owners of America
- Heartland Institute
- Institute for Justice
- International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association
- International Scholars
- Jeanette Moll
- Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
- Joseph B. Scarnati, III, President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate
- Libertarian National Committee
- Liberty Legal Institute
- Major General John D. Altenburg, et al.
- Maricopa County (Ariz.) Attorney's office (13 signatories)
- Members of Congress and Vice-President Cheney (306 signatories)
- Mountain States Legal Foundation
- National Shooting Sports Foundation
- Paragon Foundation
- Pink Pistols
- Retired military officers
- Rutherford Institute
- Second Amendment Foundation
- Southeastern Legal Foundation
- State Firearms Associations
- Texas and other states (31 signatories)
- Women state legislators and academics
Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Washington D.C.
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Bar Association
- American Public Health Association, et al.
- Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, et al.
- City of Chicago
- Coalition of civil rights groups
- D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, et al.
- District Attorneys (3 signatories)
- Former Department of Justice Officials
- Major U.S. cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors
- Members of Congress (18 signatories)
- NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund
- National Network to End Domestic Violence, et al.
- New York and other states (6 signatories)
- Professors Erwin Chemerinsky and Adam Winkler
- Professors of criminal justice
- Professors of linguistics
- Violence Policy Center and various police chiefs