Thursday morning, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
In response to this decision Attorney General Bob McDonnell issued the following statement:
“I am pleased by today’s historic decision. The Court has recognized that the Second Amendment clearly protects the individual right to keep and bear arms. This basic right was so important to our Founders that they recognized it in the Bill of Rights. It is a fundamental individual right that government must respect and protect. The District of Columbia ban was an unconstitutional infringement of this right, and the Court has correctly confirmed this position. Last December we joined an amicus brief, with thirty other attorneys general, supporting the individual right to bear arms interpretation of the Second Amendment. This is a victory for the individual liberties of all Virginians, and all Americans.”
At McDonnell’s direction, Virginia joined a multi-state amicus brief of attorneys general, written by Texas in December, supporting the individual rights interpretation of the right to bear arms confirmed in the Second Amendment.
The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, arose from a challenge to the District of Columbia’s prohibition of personal ownership of handguns, and additional restrictions on personal ownership of shotguns and rifles.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the gun policies of Washington D.C. violated the Second Amendment. The court found that the right to bear arms is an individual right guaranteed by the framers.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case. The Supreme Court specifically ruled on the question of whether existing law in the District of Columbia violates the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes.
The case provided the first major review of the original intent and interpretation of the Second Amendment in almost 70 years. It is the first time since the amendment was ratified in 1791 that the essence of the meaning of the Second Amendment has been clearly defined.