In an article in the New York Times, Monday, June 28, 2010–The Supreme Court decided in the case of McDonald v. Chicago, No. 08-1521, that the Second Amendment applies to all state and local governments and must be applied unilaterally because of the 14Th Amendment’s clause on ‘Privileges and immunities,’ which states that “No state shall make or enforce any law to abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States…”
The Second Amendment is believed to intend the right of American citizens to keep and bear arms for their own protection and in their homes:
“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.”
Historians have pointed out that the wording of this American version of Old English Law has a military connotation and perhaps should be interpreted in that perspective.
The Second Amendment was adopted into the US Constitution December 15, 1791. The American Bar Association asserts that there is more disagreement about the Second Amendment than any other clause in the Constitution.
Several previous Supreme Court Rulings have been written about the issue of the Second Amendment, most of which occurred between 1870 and 1940 but, no one really made that much of a deal about it.
Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy cited a 2 year old verdict in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller which ruled that citizens living in the District of Columbia had the right to own guns, to support their decision.
Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor stated that the Heller decision was incorrect and that they would not have applied the decision to the states even if the case had been decided correctly.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court in the Heller case unmistakeably overthrew state laws banning guns in California, Illinois and Massachusetts, making it unconstitutional for any state to regulate handguns.
“Self defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito. He was joined in reaching the result by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Vanity Fair quoting Breyer:
“Your interest in keeping and bearing a certain firearm may diminish my interest in being and feeling safe from armed violence. And while granting you the right to own a handgun might make you safer on any given day-assuming the handgun’s marginal contribution to self-defense outweighs its marginal contriÂbution to the risk of accident, suicide, and criminal mischief-it may make you and the community you live in less safe overall, owing to the increased number of hand guns in circulation. It is at least reasonable for a democratically elected legislature to take such concerns into account in considering what sorts of regulations would best serve the public welfare,”
[***It should be pointed out that the Supreme Court does not have the right or responsibility to pass legislation but rather to determine the constitutionality of the legislation that is passed when disagreements erupt].