U.S. Supreme Court Finds an Individual Right to Gun Possession in District of Columbia v. Heller
Monday, July 7, 2008 12:04 PM

Press Release

On June 26, in a much-anticipated ruling, the [US Supreme] Court overturned the District of Columbia’s ban on handgun possession by a vote of five to four. This was the first time the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment [to the US Constitution] guarantees an individual’s right to keep a loaded gun at home for purposes of self-defense. Earlier rulings had tied the right to own a gun to militia service. The decision is expected to result in further litigation to determine which kinds of restrictive gun laws will be upheld under the new standard.

District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier responded on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on July 1, “The number one question I get: Is crime going to go through the roof or is crime going to go down? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I don’t think either one of those things [is going to happen]. We’re not going to see a dramatic increase or decrease in crime… The other thing that I worry the most about, that really does have a direct impact on crime, is domestic violence, in a home where a handgun is now present and it wasn’t before – the possibility of domestic violence with a firearm. I worry about that a lot.”

“The decision’s most serious effect is the increase in handguns in the home, where guns typically do the greatest damage,” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said. “Today’s decision is likely to encourage law abiding people to buy guns, with the likelihood that the ruling will produce an increase in accidents and gun violence among family members and even neighbors, as some in the rush of anger fetch the guns to escalate or settle a dispute.”

Published in: "High Court Rules in Cases Affecting Victims of Violence," District of Columbia v. Heller, Press Release, Family Violence Prevention Fund, 26 June 2008.