District of Columbia, et. al., v. Dick Anthony Heller Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc., et. al.

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court supporting the respondent in the D.C. gun ban case, District of Columbia, et. al., v. Dick Anthony Heller, No. 07-290. The brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of California, Inc., Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The issue in the case is whether three D.C. Code provisions violate a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for private use in one’s home. We argued that, under long-standing rules limiting its jurisdiction, the Court should not entertain the Solicitor General’s invitation to assess the constitutionality of the whole array of the current federal firearms statutes. Nor, in response to petitioners and the Solicitor General, should the Court craft a standard of review not supported by the text to permit “reasonable” gun control. Rather, the Court should apply a standard of review dictated by the words and principles embodied in the Second Amendment, as directed by America’s founders.

According to its text, context, and historic setting, the Second Amendment protects an individual right to private possession and use of handguns in one’s own home. The individual right to keep and bear arms is essential to a “well regulated militia” — a self-bodying, self-governing association of people privately trained to arms, modeled after the colonial militia that took up their privately-owned firearms to defeat a tyrannical effort to confiscate their arms. In turn, a “well regulated militia” ensures the preservation of a “free state” by allowing all members of the American polity to exercise, if necessary, the sovereign right of the “people” to reconstitute their government.

In order to ensure its purpose to preserve the people’s liberties, the Second Amendment bans discriminatory legislation against classes of persons that, by nature, are rightful members of “the people.” In order to ensure its means to defeat tyranny, the Second Amendment bans discriminatory legislation against firearms that are essential to preserve those liberties. By discriminating against law-abiding D.C. citizens and against handguns, the D.C. Code provisions violate both of these standards and, therefore, unconstitutionally infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Link to brief