In 1976, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, banning residents from owning handguns, among other types of guns, and also demanding that all guns kept in the home be "unloaded, disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.”
In 2,002, Robert Levy, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute decided to challenge the laws, and found six plaintiffs willing to do so. They included a women who was a former nurse, and who worked against drugs, attempts had been made to break into her house on numerous occasions. Also another man who had once been accosted by a gang of about 20, but when he pulled out his handgun, they ran. Another plaintiff was Dick Heller, who as a security guard carried a gun, but could not have one at home.
The District Judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the appellate court was willing to reverse that dismissal. They stated that some of the regulations of the law were unconstitutional, but they were questioned as to whether the six plaintiffs had the standing to sue. Of the six, only Heller, who had actually applied for a license, and been denied, was ruled to have standing to sue the law.
The dissenter in the case for the appellate court claimed that the District of Columbia was not a state, and that, as the second amendment to the constitution states being necessary to the security of a free “state” the law was constitutional.
The city of Washington DC then appealed their case, having lost to Heller in the lower courts, to the Supreme Court. The case became a national debate, with Dick Cheney joining in. As well as current candidate for the governorship of Texas, Greg Abbott.
The court released its decision as District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). The dissent held that the second amendment referred only to the states and their militias, but the majority of the justices disagreed in the official decision. It stated:
We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.
It further went to state that the dissenting opinion and arguments on the right to bear arms did not belong “this side of the looking glass.” The lower court’s ruling was affirmed, and Heller could have his gun.
Andrew C. Abbott