U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)
In U.S. V. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (939) the Court upheld a federal law criminalizing the shipment of a sawed-off shotgun in interstate commerce. Concluding that the "obvious purpose" of the Second Amendment was "to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness" of the state militia, the Court refused to strike down the law on Second Amendment grounds absent any evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia." The Court added that without this evidence, "we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."

Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55 (1980)
In Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55 (1980), the Court ruled that restrictions contained in the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibiting felons from owning firearms were constitutional. Using a "rational basis" standard, the Court held that the restrictions "do not trench upon any constitutionally protected liberties." Further, the Court reaffirmed the position first established in U.S. v. Miller that "the Second Amendment guarantees not right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have ‘some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia’".

District of Columbia v. Heller , 554 U.S. ___ (2008)
In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. __ (2008), the Court upheld an individual’s right to own and use firearms for lawful purposes, such as for self defense in the home. While the decision ruled that the ban of handguns in Washington, D.C. is unconstitutional, it stressed that certain regulations are legitimate. In addition to limiting the type of firearms that can be owned, the decision also upheld prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and laws imposing conditions on the commercial sale of firearms.

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