District of Columbia v. Heller

On June 26, 2008, the US Supreme Court held in a 5-4 vote in the case District of Columbia v. Heller that “The Second Amendment 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.”

The Office of Legislative Research for the Connecticut General Assembly explained the importance of the ruling:

“In Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court answered a long-standing constitutional question about whether the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ is an individual right unconnected to service in the militia or a collective right that applies only to state-regulated militias.

By a five to four margin, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms for lawful use, such as self-defense, in the home (emphasis ours). Accordingly, it struck down as unconstitutional provisions of a D.C. law that (1) effectively banned possession of handguns by non law enforcement officials and (2) required lawfully owned firearms to be kept unloaded, disassembled, or locked when not located at a business place or being used for lawful recreational activities.”[1]Veronica Rose, “Summary of DC v. Heller,” cga.ct.gov, October 17, 2008

The Supreme Court noted in its opinion that some restrictions on firearms remain legal, such as prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carry of firearms in schools and government buildings, and laws imposing conditions on commercial gun sales.

1. Scalia, A. – Wrote majority opinion
2. Roberts, J. (Chief Justice) – Joined majority opinion
3. Thomas, C. – Joined majority opinion
4. Kennedy, A. – Joined majority opinion
5. Alito, S. – Joined majority opinion
1. Stevens, J. – Wrote dissenting opinion, joined dissenting opinion
2. Breyer, S. – Wrote dissenting opinion, joined dissenting opinion
3. Ginsburg, R. – Joined dissenting opinions
4. Souter, D. – Joined dissenting opinions

Below are Amicus Curiae briefs and opinions from the District Court in Parker et al., v. District of Columbia (2004), from the D.C. Appellate Court (2007), and from the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).

I. District Court, Parker v. District of Columbia, 311 F.Supp.2d 103, 109 (2004)

A. Court Opinion

  1. Opinion of the Court by Justice Sullivan

B. Amicus Curiae in Support Of Plaintiffs’ Motion For Summary Judgment

  1. The Heartland Institute

C. PDFs of the 3 D.C. Gun Control Laws that were the foundation of the Parker and Heller cases. (In the PDFs, the “text highlighted for reference” shows the sections of those laws as noted on pages 1 and 2 of the Opinion of the Court by Justice Sullivan.

  1. D.C. Code § 7-2502.02 – “barring registration of handguns” (page 2 text highlighted for reference)
  2. D.C. Code § 7-2507.02 – “barring the possession of firearms within the home or possessed land” (page 3 text highlighted for reference)
  3. D.C. Code §§ 22-4504 – “forbidding the carrying of firearms within one’s home or possessed land without a license” (page 2 text highlighted for reference)

II. D.C. Appellate Court, Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370, 401 (2007)

A. Court Opinions and Dissent

  1. Opinion by Senior Circuit Judge Silberman
  2. Dissent by Circuit Judge Henderson

B. Amici in Support of Individual Rights in the Second Amendment

  1. Texas and other states
  2. Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Madison society, and Professors Frederick Bieber, et al.
  3. Congress of Racial Equality
  4. American Civil Rights Union
  5. National Rifle Association

C. Amici Against Individual Rights in the Second Amendment

  1. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al
  2. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, et al.
  3. Ernest Mcgill/Potowmack Foundation

III. U.S. Supreme Court, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)

A. Opinions of the Court

  1. Opinion by Justice Scalia
  2. Dissent by Justice Stevens
  3. Dissent by Justice Breyer

B. Amici in Support of Individual Rights in the Second Amendment (Supporting Respondent)

  1. 126 Women State Legislatures and Academics
  2. 55 Members of United States Senate, the President of the United States Senate, and 250 Members of United States House of Representatives
  3. Academics
  4. Academics for the Second Amendment
  5. Alaska Outdoor Council, Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund, SITKA Sportsman’s Assoc., Juneau Rifle and Pistol Club, Juneau Gun Club, and Alaska Territorial Sportsmen, Inc.
  6. American Center for Law and Justice
  7. American Civil Rights Union
  8. American Legislative Exchange
  9. Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
  10. Buckeye Firearms Foundation LLC, National Council for Investigation and Security Services, Ohio Association of Private Detective Agencies, Inc., DBA Ohio Association of Security and Investigation Services (OASIS), Michigan Council of Private Investigators, Indiana Association of Professional Investigators, and Kentucky Professional Investigators Association
  11. CATO Institute and History Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm
  12. Center for Individual Freedom
  13. Congress of Racial Equality
  14. Criminologists, Social Scientists, Other Distinguished Scholars and the Claremont Institute
  15. Disabled Veterans for Self-Defense and Kestra Childers
  16. Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, D.C. and Liberty Legal Institute
  17. Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund
  18. Former Senior Officials of the Department of Justice
  19. Foundation for Free Expression
  20. Foundation for Moral Law
  21. GeorgiaCarry.org, Inc.
  22. Goldwater Institute
  23. Grass Roots of South Carolina, Inc.
  24. Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of California, Inc., Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund
  25. Heartland Institute
  26. Institute for Justice
  27. International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), Maryland State Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, Southern States Police Benevolent Association, 29 Elected California District Attorneys, San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association, Long Beach Police Officers Association, Texas Police Chiefs Association, Texas Municipal Police Association, New York State Association of Auxiliary Police, Mendocino County, Calif., Sheriff Thomas D. Allman, Oregon State Rep. Andy Olson, the National Police Defense Foundation, Law Enforcement Alliance of America, and the Independence Institute
  28. International Scholars
  29. Jeanette M. Moll et al.
  30. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
  31. Libertarian National Committee, Inc.
  32. Major General John D. Altenburg, Jr., Lieutenant General Charles E. Dominy, Lieutenant General Tom Fields, Lieutenant General Jay M. Garner, General Ronald H. Griffith, General William H. Hartzog, Lieutenant General Ronald V. Hite, Major General John. G. Meyer, Jr., Honorable Joe R. Reeder, Lieutenant General Dutch Shoffner, General John Tilelli, and The American Hunters and Shooters Association
  33. Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and Other Prosecutor Agencies
  34. Motion for Leave to File Out of Time a Brief of the State of Wisconsin as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondent and Brief of the State of Wisconsin as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondent
  35. Mountain States Legal Foundation
  36. National Rifle Association and the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund
  37. National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc.
  38. Organizations and Scholars Correcting Myths and Misrepresentations Commonly Deployed by Opponents of an Individual-Rights-Based Interpretation of the Second Amendment
  39. Paragon Foundation, Inc.
  40. Pink Pistols and Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty
  41. President Pro Tempore of the Senate of Pennsylvania, Joseph B. Scarnati, III
  42. Retired Military Officers
  43. Rutherford Institute
  44. Second Amendment Foundation
  45. Southeastern Legal Foundation, Inc., Second Amendment Sisters, Inc., Women Against Gun Control, 60 Plus Association, Inc., Robert B. Smith, J.D., Christie Davies, M.A., Ph.D., Joe Michael Cobb, and Mrs. Minnie Lee Faulkner
  46. State Firearm Associations
  47. States of Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming
  48. Virginia1774.org

C. Amici Against Individual Rights in the Second Amendment (Supporting Petitioner)

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the Children’s Defense Fund, Women Against Gun Violence and Youth Alive!
  2. American Bar Association
  3. American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Ceasefire NJ, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Citizens For A Safer Minnesota, Methodist Federation For Social Action, Clifton Kirkpatrick In His Capacity As The Stated Clerk of The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Educational Fund To Stop Gun Violence, Freedom States Alliance, American Jewish Congress, Friends Committee On National Legislation, Gray Panthers, Gunfreekids.Org, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Illinoisvictims.Org, Iowans for The Prevention Of Gun Violence, Jenna Foundation for Nonviolence, Inc., Karla Zimmerman Memorial Foundation, National Association for The Advancement of Colored People, National Council of Jewish Women, New England Coalition To Prevent Gun Violence, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, DC Statehood Green Party, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Education Fund, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, Renée Olumbuni Rondeau Peace Foundation, Root (Reaching Out To Others Together) Inc., Union for Reform Judaism, Virginia Center for Public Safety, Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, and Certain Individual Victims and Families of Victims of Gun Violence
  4. American Public Health Association, American College of Preventive Medicine, American Trauma Society, and American Association of Suicidology
  5. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, National Black Police Association, National Latino Peace Officers Association, School Safety Advocacy Council, and Police Executive Research Forum
  6. City of Chicago and the Board of Education of the City of Chicago
  7. DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, D.C. Chamber of Commerce, D.C. for Democracy, D.C. League of Women Voters, Federal City Council, and Washington Council of Lawyers
  8. District Attorneys
  9. Former Department of Justice Officials
  10. Major American Cities, the United State Conference of Mayors, and Legal Community Against Violence
  11. Jack N. Rakove, Saul Cornell, David T. Konig, William J. Novak, Lois G. Schwoerer et al.
  12. Law Professors Erwin Chemerinsky and Adam Winkler
  13. Members of Congress
  14. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  15. National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence Fund, District of Columbia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Family Violence Prevention Fund, Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc., Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kansas Coalition Against Sexual And Domestic Violence, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, Legal Momentum, Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc., Jane Doe Inc. (The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence), Michigan Coalition Against Domestic And Sexual Violence, Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services/Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota, Action Ohio, Ohio Domestic Violence Network, Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Puerto Rico Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (Coordinadora Paz Para La Mujer, Inc.), Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
  16. New York, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico
  17. Professors of Criminal Justice
  18. Professors of Linguistics and English Dennis E. Baron, Ph.D., Richard W. Bailey, Ph.D., and Jeffrey P. Kaplan, Ph.D.
  19. Violence Policy Center and the Police Chiefs for the Cities of Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Seattle

 D. Amicus for Neither Petitioner nor Respondent

  1. United States


1 Veronica Rose, “Summary of DC v. Heller,” cga.ct.gov, October 17, 2008