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Gun battle: Heller time; D.C. gun ban overturned

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 26, 2008 10:00 AM

Scroll down for updates…10:13am…YES! The D.C. gun ban has been overturned…Scalia authors majority opinion…There is an individual right to bear arms…McCain weighs in…”Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today.”

All eyes are on the Supreme Court for the 2nd Amendment ruling in Heller v. D.C.

SCOTUSblog is covering it live. Tom Goldstein notes that there are three decisions coming down this morning, which will be released in order of the seniority of the author of the principal opinion: most junior to most senior.”

Barack Obama’s doing “inartful” flip-flops in anticipation of the decision:

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Alexa Ainsworth Report: With the Supreme Court poised to rule on Washington, D.C.’s, gun ban, the Obama campaign is disavowing what it calls an “inartful” statement to the Chicago Tribune last year in which an unnamed aide characterized Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as believing that the DC ban was constitutional.

“That statement was obviously an inartful attempt to explain the Senator’s consistent position,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells ABC News.

The statement which Burton describes as an inaccurate representation of the senator’s views was made to the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 20, 2007.

In a story entitled, “Court to Hear Gun Case,” the Chicago Tribune’s James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins wrote “. . . the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he ‘…believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.’”

Jim Geraghty: “All statements by Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.”

Update 10:13am. Rejoice. The D.C. gun ban has been overturned. Tom Goldstein: “Justice Scalia wrote the opinion. Justice Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg.”

More from Goldstein, quoting the syllabus: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

Update 10:37am. Reader D.G.:

Prediction: Unlike the 5-4 Boumediene vs. Bush decision [the Gitmo case], which the MSM hailed as “landmark” [and] “historic” because it rebuked Bush, this 5-4 decision will be spun as a decision by the “conservative” Supreme Court, which was “controversial,” “fractured” or “splintered.” Anything to cast doubt on the decision.

“Landmark-Historic:” Any decision the court makes that the media likes.

“Controversial-Splintered:” Any decision the liberal media hates.

Update: Allahpundit dissects the ruling. You can find the PDF of the opinion here. SCOTUSblog’s summary:

Examining the words of the Amendment, the Court concluded “we find they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weaons in case of confrontation” — in other words, for self-defense. “This meaning,” it added, “is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment,” going back to 17th Century England.

What Congress did in drafting the Amendment, the Court said, was “to codify a pre-existing right, rather than to fashion a new one.”

Justice Scalia’s opinion stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.

In District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), the Court nullified two provisions of the city of Washington’s strict 1976 gun control law: a flat ban on possessing a gun in one’s home, and a requirement that any gun — except one kept at a business — must be unloaded and disassembled or have a trigger lock in place. The Court said it was not passing on a part of the law requiring that guns be licensed. It said that issuing a license to a handgun owner, so the weapon can be used at home, would be a sufficient remedy for the Second Amendment violation of denying any access to a handgun.

And McCain weighs in…

U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement regarding today’s United States Supreme Court ruling on District of Columbia v. Heller:

Today’s decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right — sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.

This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.

UPDATE: (See-Dubya) This goes much farther than the minimum. Not only is their an explicit right to own guns for self-defense (not just hunting or military exercises, and not just for the purposes of the militia) it explicitly mentions that this right extends to handguns.

Check out this rhapsody to the pistol on pp. 57-58. I want the bolded section chiseled in granite and ensconced someplace liberals will see it every day:

It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; It cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upperbody strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. 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.

And it’s not just that self-defense is a subsidiary right to the common defense, it’s (page 26) “the central component of the right itself.”

And not just self-defense in the sense of immediate threat to life: it’s for the defense of life, family, and property (p.54):

The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute.

Out-freaking-standing. I think there’s enough juicy red meat in there to keep the NRA’s lawyers winning victories for centuries.

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