The Court held that the second amendment right to bear arms is an individual, not just a collective right associated with having a state militia. But, it is still a limited right and is not totally disconnected from the concept of a militia. The court basically held that at the time of the founding the weapons that people had for personal protection are the same weapons they brought to their service in the militia. It is those weapons that the court says are covered by the Amendment.
This decision makes clear that the court is not invalidating all gun control laws. It does not mean that licensing requirements are invalid. It does not mean that people have the right to own artillery, tanks, sawed off shotguns and M-16s. It also doesn't mean people can carry concealed weapons or take weapons to school. Finally, felons and people with mental problems can also be prohibited from holding weapons.
This opinion was written by Scalia, the republican icon of the ideal Justice. Because his opinion would validate most of the types of gun control legislation on the books today, it steals the thunder from the gun lobby about gun rights in the US today. As such, It will be a net positive for Obama and other Democrats.
Much will be written on the subject as we have a chance to digest the language of the opinion. But these statements from the majority opinion should allay fears that the doors have been opened to unrestricted gun ownership.
At the outset, the Court says that it's longstanding opinion in United States v Miller is still valid but clarifies the scope of that decision.
We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.
The court is protecting weapons held by law abiding people for lawful purposes. Self-defense is the lawful purpose the court is upholding. The court also limits the protection to the types of weapons that a militia man would have in his home at the time of the founding.
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.”
That does not mean the Court is sanctioning the types of weapons a soldier would use today.
It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.
The decision goes on to make clear that the Amendment does not prohibit the who, what, where and why of weapons regulation.
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
For instance, it doesn't guarantee the right to carry concealed weapons.
For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.
Also the government can regulate who owns weapons and where they may be carried.
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
Finally, the decision leaves open the question of the legality of registration laws.
Respondent conceded at oral argument that he does not “have a problem with . . . licensing” and that the Dis- trict’s law is permissible so long as it is “not enforced in an arbitrary and capricious manner.” Tr. of Oral Arg. 74–75. We therefore assume that petitioners’ issuance of a license will satisfy respondent’s prayer for relief and do not address the licensing requirement.
Basically, the Court is saying that it is impermissible to have an outright ban on weapons for use in the home for personal protection. Agree or disagree, but that is a limited ruling. Contrary to what Second amendment advocates believe, Scalia makes clear that the government can restrict who can own weapons, what type of weapons are protected and where and how those weapons can be carried. That is really what most gun control advocates have been wishing for all these years. i think it takes away the Second Amendment as a wedge issue, and that can only help Democrats.