People on both sides of the gun debate have been waiting since the middle of September to hear whether the Supreme Court will take up Friedman v. City of Highland Park, the most important Second Amendment case since District of Columbia v. Heller – the 2008 case where the court threw out a DC handgun ban (and other gun restrictions) and ruled that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is an individual right, not a right connected to service in a militia (and weakening the position of advocates for greater gun control). Ironically, language in the Heller decision, which was written by uber-conservative Justice Scalia, might pave the way to protecting Highland Park’s assault weapons ban. In Heller, Scalia wrote that the Second Amendment isn’t universal and unrestricted or absolute – that it doesn’t protect the “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” He went on to say that the right to possess military-grade weapons (arguably, like the assault weapons banned by Highland Park) is not protected by the Second Amendment because those are not the kind of weapons typically possessed by ordinary citizens. Remember, Scalia is an “originalist,” looking to the meaning of the term “arms” when the Second Amendment was drafted…
Of the three possible outcomes here, two would be victories for gun control advocates: If the court doesn’t take up the case, Highland Park’s assault weapon ban will stay in place, and you can expect to see similar bans enacted across the country. If the court takes up the case and Highland Park wins, its assault weapon ban stays in place. Again, expect to see similar bans enacted across the country. But if Highland Park loses, it could lay wide open the right to own and use some pretty serious weaponry. This is important. Stay tuned….
A quick reminder of the full text of the Second Amendment below:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed