The Supreme Court just released their ruling on the Washington D.C. gun ban:
The Supreme Court says Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.
The court's 5-4 ruling strikes down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision goes further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.
The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: “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.”
The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.
This is obviously good news for gun owners, and bad news for people who think the Constitution should be interpreted as a living, evolving document. The question here was whether a 'well regulated militia' was referring to an official state-sponsored organization, or just any individual. That may seem like a small difference, but it is critical.
Basically, the Founders put in the 2nd Amendment to ensure that this very last resort against an oppressive government. They looked at history (not to mention the history that they'd just finished writing with the Revolutionary War) and saw instances from all over the world where an oppressive regime remained in power because they controlled all the weaponry. It's awfully hard to fight against shields and swords with your bare hands, you know. This fact is one of the reasons that martial arts have been developed all over the world – to even the playing field between peasants and trained/better-equipped soldiers.
Anyway, the Founders — who intentionally incorporated numerous checks and balances in our government — realized this, and knew that in the event of an oppressive government, the people needed to be able to rise up and remove that oppressive government. To do that, the people needed the right to bear arms outside of a government organization. The 2nd Amendment is the ultimate balance against government tyranny, which is why it needs to be preserved as it was intended so many years ago.
Given the last couple of rulings from this bunch, I wasn't sure they'd get this one right, either, but it is a great relief that they did. I'll post more analysis as it comes out, but for now we can all sleep more peacefully, knowing that guns aren't only in the hands of criminals.
There's my two cents.