The Constitution and Supreme Court set a high bar for gun control – OCRegister

On February 14, President Biden marked the third anniversary of the deadly shooting incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with an announcement that he is calling on Congress to enact “commonsense gun law reforms.”

As always, the details matter. The president defined “commonsense” as a requirement for background checks on all gun sales, a ban on “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” and an end to “immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

The U.S. Supreme Court held in 2008, in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, that the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” is an individual right that is not contingent on service in “a well-regulated militia.” That means the U.S. Constitution limits the federal government’s power to pass laws restricting that right.

Exactly where are the limits? That’s always a matter of interpretation. The Heller opinion, written by the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, held that the District’s law prohibiting the possession of handguns was over the line, as was its law requiring residents to keep their lawfully owned, registered long guns “unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device” unless the guns were located in a place of business or in use for lawful recreational activities.

Scalia wrote that the handgun ban “amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of ‘arms’ that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society” for the “lawful purpose” of “the inherent right of self-defense.” Under any standard
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