Civil and Human Rights

Second Amendment Rights and States


Tuesday, March 2, 2010
5:15 pm
Cato Institute

Participants talked about gun control laws and a Supreme Court case scheduled to be argued the following day.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns and found that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. On March 2, 2010, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Court will hear oral arguments on whether that right applies to states and localities. The Court is expected to hold that it does: a key purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified at the height of Reconstruction in 1868, was to allow newly freed slaves and white Unionists to defend themselves against Southern reprisals by protecting their right to keep and bear arms. But if the Court reaches that result via the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause, which was specifically enacted to protect various individual rights, including particularly the right to armed self-defense, would help determine the future of gun rights in America and also constitutional law generally, because it could lead to the re-invigoration of a variety of important liberties that courts have long neglected.

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