National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1987-: We the People are still making history

June 26, 2008
Supreme Court rules that the Second Amendment protects an individualís right to own firearms

Gun

In March 2007, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a 30-year-old law that forbids almost all D.C. residents from owning handguns. The law was challenged by six Washington, D.C., residents who said they wanted to keep guns in their homes to protect themselves against crime.

Challenges to the Second Amendmentís right to bear arms have been circling through the courts for years. Opponents of gun control maintain that the Second Amendment guarantees an individualís right to have firearms. Gun-control supporters say the amendment originated as a collective right of the states to maintain militias.

Today, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme court upheld the Appeals Courtís ruling, in a 5-4 vote. In the first Supreme Court case to rule directly on the issue of individual vs. militia rights, the majority opinion states, ďThe Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.Ē

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