Supreme Court to Hear Second Amendment Case

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The Supreme Court agreed today to consider an issue that has divided politicians, constitutional scholars and ordinary citizens for decades: whether the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects an individual right to “keep and bear arms.”

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from the District of Columbia, whose gun-control law — one of the strictest in the nation — was struck down by the lower federal courts earlier this year. The case will probably be argued in the spring.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down sections of the Washington gun law that make it exceedingly difficult to legally own a handgun, that prohibit carrying guns without a license even from one room to another, and that require lawfully owned firearms to be kept unloaded.

The Second Amendment, surely one of the most disputed passages in the United States Constitution, states this, in its entirety: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Supreme Court has never directly addressed the basic meaning of that passage. When it last considered a Second Amendment case, in 1939, it addressed a somewhat peripheral question, holding that a sawed-off shotgun was not one of the “arms” that the Founding Fathers had in mind.

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