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District of Columbia v. Heller, Case Study Example

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Case Study

The Action

The specific issue was for the Supreme Court to decide whether or not the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 in Washington D.C. was unconstitutional in its use to restrict citizens from purchasing a license and a handgun.  The District of Columbia filed a grievance lawsuit for the reversal of a decision that the Court of Appeals found in favor of Heller, and six fellow plaintiffs.  The government looked to validate that its 1975 law was constitutional and could continue to restrict the sale of handguns and the procurement of licenses.

The Facts

In 2002, Robert A. Levy and Clark M. Neily, III, began a search for plaintiffs that would come together to file for a Second Amendment lawsuit.  Eventually, six plaintiffs were chosen including Shelly Parker, Tom Palmer, Gillian St. Lawrence, Tracey Ambeau, George Lyon, and Dick Heller.  Heller became the major household name for this case because he was the only plaintiff that had a legitimate argument.  He was attempting to purchase a license to buy a handgun in Washington D.C. and he was denied the license by the government.  The plaintiffs originally lost in the District Court, but the ruling was reversed in the Court of Appeals.  Finally, the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit to reverse the latest decision in the Supreme Court.

The Issue

This case was originally tried in the district courts of the District of Columbia where six residents challenged the constitutionality of Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 that restricted the use of hand guns, and arguably the second amendment rights of U.S. citizens.  Eventually, this became a solid second amendment case that was tried in the Supreme Court in 2008.  It specifically questioned whether the Second Amendment forbids the District of Columbia from banning private possession of handguns while allowing possession of rifles and shotguns.

The Opinion of the Court

The case was ruled 5-4 in favor of the plaintiffs arguing that the last in Washington D.C. was unconstitutional because it did restrict the second amendment rights of the local citizens.  The court ruled that the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 was unconstitutional.  The minority opinion stated that governments have the right to regulate localized retrieval of handguns and license procurement.  Ultimately, the court found in favor of the six citizens and many states are being forced to examine their local laws in order to ensure that the second amendment rights of citizens are no longer withheld.

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