Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Washington, D.C. gun ban case. The D.C. mayor escalated the case to the Supreme Court when the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. struck down the District's ban on the private ownership of handguns.
The Supreme Court's ruling could have widespread effects on gun control laws across the nation.
The pro-gun extremists are getting nervous. In fact, some are spinning the case by saying that the Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not to "uphold the Second Amendment". That wording is false and it is (perhaps deliberately) misleading.
The Supreme Court cannot decide whether to uphold or abolish a portion of the Constitution. Rather, the Court interprets the Constitution.
The question of whether the ambiguously-worded Second Amendment ensures the right for individuals to own guns (and, as the NRA likes to think, the right to own as many guns as they want, even the giant assault rifles that can penetrate brick walls) has spawned arguments and debates for decades or longer. Now the Supreme Court will decide on whether the states can regulate gun ownership. And, in doing so, they will tell us what the Second Amendment really means in today's world.
The Second Amendment will not go away. It will merely be clarified and explained.
And, in light of the growing problem of gun violence in America, the Court's decision could literally be a matter of life or death.
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)