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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Second Amendment Challenges to Firearms Regulations Post-Heller

Vivian S. Chu
Legislative Attorney

The U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller held that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to possess a firearm, unconnected with service in a militia, and the use of that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. It also held that the Second Amendment applies to the states in McDonald v. City of Chicago. Since then, federal and state firearms laws have been challenged under the Second Amendment. Lower courts have been disputed in determining how to evaluate these provisions, given that the Heller decision was not an exhaustive analysis of the scope of the Second Amendment.

This report first discusses the two-step inquiry fashioned by the lower courts to analyze provisions under the Second Amendment. It proceeds to highlight how this test has been employed on a select number of firearms laws—namely, the federal age requirement and prohibition on possession by those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; and state requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit and a state assault weapons ban. How courts have applied the test to these categories may provide some indication as to how future firearms regulations may be considered by the Supreme Court. The report concludes with a discussion on how varied interpretations by the lower courts of the Heller decision may affect the burden upon the federal government to defend firearms provisions, as well as new analytical frameworks that have been suggested.

Date of Report: April 4, 2013
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: R43031
Price: $29.95

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