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District of Columbia v Heller

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Chemerinsky

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008)

Brief Fact Summary. The District of Columbia has a ban on handguns, and in addition prohibits them from being in the home unless they are disabled.  Respondent Heller brings an action claiming that this complete ban violates the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. the 2nd Amendment extends a right to all individuals to keep firearms, and although the 2nd Amendment is not absolute, a complete ban on a class of weapons (handguns), even for a lawful purpose, violates the constitution.

Facts. The District of Columbia prohibits the possession of handguns, and no person may carry a handgun without a license.  However, the Chief of Police may issue licenses for 1-year periods.  In addition, residents are required to keep such firearms “unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device” unless they are located in a place of business or are being used for a lawful recreational activity.

Respondent Dick Heller is a special police officer authorized to carry a handgun while on duty, and applied for a registration for a handgun he wanted to keep at home.  The district denied such a registration.  He filed suit in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia seeking to enjoin the city from enforcing the bar on the registration of handguns, the licensing requirement insofar as it violated the Second Amendment. 

Issue. Does the District of Columbia’s prohibition on the possession of usable handguns in the home violate the 2nd Amendment?

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