The Second Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court will finish the 2007-2008 term today with three final rulings, with most eyes on a case involving the constitutionality of a handgun ban in Washington, D.C.

The odd part about the issue of gun rights, is that the Supreme Court has never ruled directly on the merits of the Second Amendment since it was ratified by the states in 1791.

The last time a serious gun case came before the Court was in 1939, and most scholars believe the justices simply sidestepped that matter, without making a binding ruling.

Of course, that could happen again today when the ruling comes out soon after 10am EDT.

But since it has been held to the last three rulings and the last day of the court's term, I would expect there will be some meat on the bones.  But you never know.

While most court watchers don't like to make guesses about what the Supreme Court is going to do, one new website that's focused on the Court ran a poll that found over 90% of those who took the survey felt like Washington, D.C. will lose this gun case.

There's even speculation at http://www.scotusblog.com that Justice Antonin Scalia is going to be writing the majority opinion, which would bode well for supporters of gun rights.

When the court agreed to take this case, the Justices themselves framed it very clearly.

"Whether the following provisions -- D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 -- violate 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 militia angle of course is very important, because of the somewhat confusing words of the Second Amendment.

"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."

Those words, with some odd punctuation, certainly aren't interpreted the same by many legal experts.

The first reference to the militia immediately sets this amendment apart, because it seemingly puts the militia before the individual.

Maybe today's decision will frame it differently.  We have probably waited long enough to find out what it really means.