On Tuesday November 20th, 2007 the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case involving the District of Columbia's ban on handguns. The statute had been successfully challenged in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the grounds that it violated the Second Amendment's guarantee of "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." With its decision to grant certiorari, the Supreme Court entered a constitutional controversy from which it had been largely absent for nearly seventy years, the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment. That controversy, the debate over the Second Amendment has occupied a somewhat curious place in American constitutional discourse. It is the subject of a vast polemical literature in the popular press, part of the often strident debate over gun control. Where once the amendment suffered from an unfortunate scholarly neglect, it has over the last two decades, become an arena of lively and sometimes acrimonious debate among historians, legal scholars and political scientists. The Court's decision is likely to provide a definitive legal ruling on the amendment although it is unlikely to end the controversy over the amendment's original meaning and how it should be applied in modern America.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 389; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 389
Robert J. Cottrol & Raymond T. Diamond, Public Safety and the Right to Bear Arms in THE BILL OF RIGHTS IN MODERN AMERICA (David J. Bodenhamer, James W. Ely, Jr., eds., Indiana University Press, 2008).