Opinion of the Court
In sum, we hold that the Districts ban on Handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the house.* * *
We are aware of the problems of handgun violence, and we take seriously the concerns of many amici that believe that the prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns, see supra at 54-55. and n. 26. But the enshrinement of the constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self defense in the home. Undoubtedly some think the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our Army is the pride of our Nation, where well trained Police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
We affirm the Judgement of the Court of Appeals.
The opinion can be downloaded here.
Quotes from the opinion:
“Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command.”
“We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.”
“the most natural reading of ‘keep Arms’ in the Second Amendment is to “have weapons.”
“The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity.”
“Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”
“Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.”
“The prefatory clause does not suggest that preserving the militia was the only reason Americans valued the ancient right; most undoubtedly thought it even more important for self-defense and hunting.”
“It was plainly the understanding in the post-Civil War Congress that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to use arms for self-defense.”
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”
“Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ 307 U. S., at 179.”
“Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.”
“In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.”
On the question of the Second Amendment’s application to the States: “23 With respect to Cruikshank’s continuing validity on incorporation, a question not presented by this case, we note that Cruikshank also said that the First Amendment did not apply against the States and did not engage in the sort of Fourteenth Amendment inquiry required by our later cases. Our later decisions in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 265 (1886) and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535, 538 (1894), reaffirmed that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government.”