District of Columbia V. Heller: The Right to Bear Arms Case

Overview

On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. By a vote of 5 to 4, the court struck down a ban on guns as a violation of the Second Amendment. Still, the debate rages on. Does a private citizen still have the right to own a gun for self-defense of the home? Did the government have the right to restrict and entire class of weapons, either by levying taxes or banning them altogether? Tom Streissguth looks at all of the sides of this complex and ...

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District of Columbia v. Heller: The Right to Bear Arms Case

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Overview

On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. By a vote of 5 to 4, the court struck down a ban on guns as a violation of the Second Amendment. Still, the debate rages on. Does a private citizen still have the right to own a gun for self-defense of the home? Did the government have the right to restrict and entire class of weapons, either by levying taxes or banning them altogether? Tom Streissguth looks at all of the sides of this complex and controversial legal debate.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jeanne K. Pettenati J.D.
When Al Capone planned the St. Valentine's Day massacre in 1929, gun control laws were virtually nonexistent. That bloody day in Chicago, seven men were executed and the nation's lawmakers started paying serious attention to gun violence. The National Firearms Act, the first federal law regulating gun ownership, became law in 1934. The well-written text and pertinent photographs do an excellent job of relating the issues in the gun-control controversy from both historical and contemporary perspectives. The case of District of Columbia v. Heller featured a plaintiff who worked as a security guard in a Washington DC federal judicial building. Heller carried a weapon on the job and was trained to use it if necessary. But DC gun laws did not permit Heller to keep his weapon at home for his own defense. He believed that the Constitution's Second amendment, the right to bear arms, entitled him to keep his weapon and ammunition at home. This challenge to the DC gun ban wound its way through the federal courts up to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down the DC gun law as unconstitutional. The District of Columbia was compelled to issue a gun license to Richard Heller so that he could keep his handgun at home. A dissenting opinion noted that the Second Amendment did not specifically cite the right to use guns for self-defense. The straightforward text will help young readers understand how a case ends up at the Supreme Court, the politics of a decision, and the impact of the ruling. Students taking government courses in middle and high schools will find this book a valuable asset for research and curriculum support. This title, which includes chapter notes, a glossary, an index, chronology, and places to go for further information, is one in the publisher's "Landmark Supreme Court Cases" series. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 5

1 Trouble in the District of Columbia 14

2 The Road to the Supreme Court 25

3 The Context of the Constitution 41

4 The Original Intent: Individual v. Collective Rights 57

5 The Politics of a Decision 68

6 The Court Decides 79

7 The Impact of the Decision 90

Chronology 99

Chapter Notes 101

Glossary 106

Further Reading 108

Internet Addresses 109

Index 110

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