last updated 9 June 2022
2nd Amendment - The Right to Bear Arms
See The Right to Bear Arms throughline podcast Jan 2024
Supreme Court Decisions
- United States v. Miller (1939)
An Arkansas federal district court charged Jack Miller and Frank Layton with violating the National Firearms Act of 1934 ("NFA") when they transported a sawed-off double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun in interstate commerce. Miller and Layton argued that the NFA violated their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The Supreme Court reversed the district court in a unanimous decision, holding that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual the right to keep and bear a sawed-off double-barrel shotgun. Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice James Clark McReynolds reasoned that because possessing a sawed-off double barrel shotgun does not have a reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia, the Second Amendment does not protect the possession of such an instrument
- District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) - Firearms in the home (Wash. DC)
In 2002, Robert A. Levy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, began vetting plaintiffs for a planned Second Amendment lawsuit that he would personally finance.
In February 2003, six residents of Washington, D.C. filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, a local law (part of the District of Columbia Code). This law restricted residents from owning handguns.
It challenged the law in federal enclaves like the District of Columbia and did not apply to the states.
The Court ruled 5 to 4 a total ban on operative handguns in the home is unconstitutional.
Second Amendment rights in the states was addressed later by McDonald v. Chicago (2010)
- New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen - June 2022 - Strikes Down New York Law Limiting Guns in Public
- the court ruled 6-3 that states with strict limits on carrying guns in public violate the Second Amendment.
This followed 2 high profile mass shooting in May 2022:
Buffalo, NY - 10 people killed in a racist shooting at a at Tops Market.
Uvalde, TX - 21 people killed at the Robb Elementary school. 19 children and two teachers.
- Buckley v. Valeo, (1975) - Campaign financing
Question: Did the limits placed on electoral expenditures by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 and provisions in the 1974 Amendment, violate the First Amendment's freedom of speech and association clauses?
Parties: Senator James L. Buckley (NY) and others sued Francis Valeo, the Secretary of the Senate an ex officio member of the Federal Elections Comission (FEC).
Decision: 7 votes for Buckley, 1 vote(s) against.
The Court found that governmental restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns e.g. "political action committees," (PACs), the limitation on expenditures by candidates from their own personal or family resources, and the limitation on total campaign expenditures did violate the First Amendment.
On April 28, 1996, a 28-year-old man with a troubled past named Martin Bryant walked into a cafe in Port Arthur, a tourist town on the island of Tasmania, and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. He killed 35 people and wounded another 28.
Australia's prime minister at the time, John Howard, the head of a center-right coalition,
persuaded both his coalition and Australia's states to agree to a sweeping, nationwide reform of gun laws. The so-called National Firearms Agreement (NFA), drafted the month after the shooting, sharply restricted legal ownership of firearms in Australia.
Between October 1996 and September 1997, Australia responded to its own gun violence problem with a solution that was both straightforward and severe:
They introduced a mandatory buyback: Australia's states would take away all guns that had just been declared illegal. In exchange, they'd pay the guns' owners a fair price. The NFA also offered legal amnesty for anyone who handed in illegally owned guns, though they weren't compensated.
It collected roughly 650,000 privately held guns about 20 percent of all privately owned guns.
It was one of the largest mandatory gun buyback programs in recent history.
The firearm suicide rate in Australia in the seven years after the bill declined by 57 percent compared with the seven years prior. The average firearm homicide rate went down by about 42 percent.