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This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. We consider whether a District of Columbia prohibition on the possession of usable handguns in the home violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
I The District of Columbia generally prohibits the possession of handguns. It is a crime to carry an unregistered firearm, and the registration of handguns is prohibited. Wholly apart from that prohibition, no person may carry a handgun without a license, but the chief of police may issue licenses for 1-year periods.
He applied for a registration certificate for a handgun that he wished to keep at home, but the District refused.
District of Columbia, F. The Court of Appeals directed the District Court to enter summary judgment for respondent. II We turn first to the meaning of the Second Amendment. A The Second Amendment provides: Normal meaning may of course include an idiomatic meaning, but it excludes secret or technical meanings that would not have been known to ordinary citizens in the founding generation.
The two sides in this case have set out very different interpretations of the Amendment. Respondent argues that it protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
See Brief for Respondent 2—4.
The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. Although this structure of the Second Amendment is unique in our Constitution, other legal documents of the founding era, particularly individual-rights provisions of state constitutions, commonly included a prefatory statement of purpose.
Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command. But apart from that clarifying function, a prefatory clause does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause. Marks, 3 East,K. Therefore, while we will begin our textual analysis with the operative clause, we will return to the prefatory clause to ensure that our reading of the operative clause is consistent with the announced purpose.
As we said in United States v. Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language reprinted hereinafter Webster similar. The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity.
Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e. American Civil Liberties Union, U.
United States, U. The most prominent examples are those most relevant to the Second Amendment: That was also the interpretation of those state constitutional provisions adopted by pre-Civil War state courts. See 2 Oxford No dictionary has ever adopted that definition, and we have been apprised of no source that indicates that it carried that meaning at the time of the founding.
But it is easy to see why petitioners and the dissent are driven to the hybrid definition.
Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights Those sources would have had little occasion to use it except in discussions about the standing army and the militia. See post, at 12—13, n.A letter of default is the last letter a lender will send you when you have missed payments on a debt before they take supplemental action.
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It will then move on to discussing the formulation of the legal opinion itself. Mar 27, · A musket from the 18th century, when the Second Amendment was written, and an assault rifle of leslutinsduphoenix.comCreditTop, MPI, via Getty Images, .