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DC vs Heller oral arguments.

2509 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  blainenay
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today. Most media seems to think that the court was favorable to the idea that the 2A supports a right to bare arms. Lets hope that the court adopts not only that it's an individual right but that that right applies to "ordinary, functional firearms, including handguns".
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Right you are.
I've been following this today (heard most of the audio, read the entire transcript) and I'm actually heartened by the way it turned out. It appears to be obvious to the majority of SCOTUS that the 2nd amendment assures an individual right. The discussion honed in immediately on where the lines could/should be drawn on regulation of the right.

Still keeping fingers crossed (figuratively) 'till June.
I am so glad there is someone on the forum able to keep track of this. This may be the only way I have to keep track of the issue.
Thanks guys.

You can get info here.

It will be interesting to see how this comes out.
I too watched CSPAN today and listened to the oral arguments before the Supreme Court. I agree that the argument hardly even touched upon the idea of the 2A standing for a collective right.

It seemed most of the Justices (particularly Roberts, Kennedy, Alito and Scalia) already assumed that the 2A assures an individual right. Judging by their questions, I would say that it seems like Breyer, Souter, Stevens and Ginsburg will likely try to curtail the individual right through great deference to a jurisdiction's legislative body. Whereas, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Scalia and Thomas will probably find that the individual right conferred is broad, resulting in very little deference given to legislative bodies that want to regulate such a right through gun control measures. In other words, don't be surprised if, when their opinion is rendered in June, it is a close 5-4 decision, in favor of a broad individual right to bear arms.

I was quite surprised by how much ground the D.C. attorney (Dellinger) gave up, by stating that they weren't really arguing the 2A doesn't confer an individual right, rather D.C. was arguing that courts should give great deference to legislative measures to regulate guns. This great deference would be established by courts reviewing challenged gun control laws using what is called "rational basis review", which more often than not results in such laws being upheld. In contrast, Heller's attorney (Gura) was arguing that the right was broad, so any standard of review applied to challenged gun control laws would have to be similar to "strict scrutiny", which more often than not results in such laws being struck down by courts. Chief Justice Roberts seemed to prefer not to define any standard of review for gun control laws, and instead, he thought that perhaps the court could just define specifically the right outlined in the 2A.

One interesting aspect of the argument today was the court's focus on the way the preamble of the 2A informs what Justice Kennedy calls the "operative clause", being "the right of the people to keep and bear arms". By calling this the "operative clause", Kennedy clearly indicated his predisposition to find an individual right. More interestingly, the court focused on how private individual gun ownership is important in order to have effective military and police forces. In other words, if private individuals can own, use and develop skill with firearms, then some of those same individuals can eventually become more effective military or police officers.

The funniest part of the oral argument came when the D.C. attorney tried to argue that the D.C. gun ban provided for self defense use of a firearm, even though the ban completely banned handguns and required rifles and shotguns to be disassembled or unloaded.and disabled with a gun lock. Scalia immediately criticized the ridiculousness of such an argument by pointing out that when a burglar begins breaking into your home, all you have to do is turn on your nightstand lamp, put on your glasses, unlock the gunlock, load your gun and then you are ready to defend yourself. Scalia's point is clear. The D.C. gun ban doesn't truly allow you to protect yourself because you have to either unlock or assemble and then load your gun to use it to protect yourself and your home. This point by Scalia got an audible laugh from the crowd.
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You guys and gals ought to read and reread Sheepdog's post. He's our resident legal authority (the good kind of lawyer, you know, like Mitch "Pancho" Vilos), and knows what he is talking about. Plus, he dumbs it down for the rest of us. Thanks Sheepdog!
I think this is very telling.

Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign, has suggested to D.C. that it modify its gun laws rather than appeal to the Supreme Court. Helmke has written that if the Supreme Court upholds the Circuit court ruling, it "could lead to all current and proposed firearms laws being called into question."
I think a lot of current gun law is legally questionable. For example the NFA of 1934 seems fishy. It's tax code. I think that using tax code to create a restriction on firearms ownership and a defacto registration is wrong. If opponents of the 2A want to create a registration they should pass a law explicitly doing that not create one hidden in the tax code. I also think that it's stupid that the Hughes amendment to the Firearm Owners' Protection Act (limiting the sale of new machine guns) was slipped in late at night by a non recorded voice vote. I think if we as a country are going to be honest about our commitment to the 2A then we need to take this issues and address them directly and not in back rooms after hours.
I was reading Sheepdog's post and found this farily uplifting. This is an issue that I have always wondered how it would turn out when it was brought to this point. Let's all hope and pray (if you are religious) that this turns out the right way and our gun rights are upheld.
I know it's a pipe dream, but it would be nice if they removed the ban on sales of new machine guns to civilians. Then instead of having to pay $20,000 for a Tommy gun, I could by a new one for $1,000.
Thank you sheepdog for your excellent post. I also listened to the vast majority of the arguments and your summary presents exactly what I got out of it.

During the discussion of the word "arms", Gura made the argument that it is defined as "weapons that would typically be used in the military" and this was generally accepted. But he then indicated that it is reasonable for the government to impose limits on machine guns. A couple of the justices attacked him on this because a machine gun is the standard military issue weapon. They argued that if "arms" means "military weapons", then how could the government reasonable restrict our rights to keep and bear them. It was very interesting and I'm sure it had the Brady Bunch squirming in their seats.

Overall, it seemed clear that the court will agree it's an individual right. How they define what reasonable restrictions can be made and how those restrictions should be defined (legislation vs. courts) will be what's most influential.

Yes, Justice Scalia just plain rocks. He infused a lot of logic into a very ethereal argument.
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Found this article on the Washington Post for anyone interested: Justices Appear Skeptical Of D.C.'s Handgun Ban.

There is this ridiculous statement on page 2 by Alan Gura, "he conceded that governments could ban ownership of some weapons. Machine guns could be one category, he said, and "plastic" handguns manufactured to escape detection." I sure hope by plastic he wasn't referring to the old and stupid idea that polymer pistols can fool metal detectors. :lolbang:
marksman said:
I think a lot of current gun law is legally questionable....
There hasn't been a decent gun law passed since the Bill of Rights was adopted. The few "good" gun laws are those that condescendingly restore some rights that the government has stolen (ie, Utah's concealed carry law).

As for the hearing, I thought that the Justices were remarkably lucid in their questioning (Ginsburg not so much).
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