Monday, March 16, 2009

So Far, Few Ripples From Landmark Ruling on Guns

New York Times article on Heller vs D.C.

“A year ago, I might well have taken for granted the authority of Congress to require that a person charged with a crime be prohibited from possessing a firearm,” Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV of the Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote in December. Heller changed that, he said.

“The right to possess a firearm is constitutionally protected,” Judge Francis wrote. “There is no basis for categorically depriving persons who are merely accused of certain crimes of the right to legal possession of a firearm.”

The cases discussed so far all concerned federal laws, and there is no question that the Second Amendment applies to the federal government. The great open question after Heller is whether the Second Amendment also applies to the states or, in the legal jargon, whether the amendment is incorporated against them.

The Supreme Court has said that most but not all of the protections of the Bill of Rights are incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the post-Civil War amendments.

The consensus among most legal scholars is that incorporation of the Second Amendment is likely....

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