Gun Control Advocates See U.S. Supreme Court Support After Newtown Shooting
Gun-control advocates, seeking new laws in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, are drawing support from an unlikely source: the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 decision backing the right to bear arms.
That ruling marked the court’s first declaration that the Constitution’s Second Amendment protects the gun rights of individuals. At the same time, Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion said the government could impose restrictions, such as bans on gun possession by convicted felons and the mentally ill.
Since that ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, courts have struck down only a handful of state and local gun laws. With lawmakers and President Barack Obama now discussing improved background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, gun-control advocates say they see the legal obstacles as less daunting than the political ones.
“The Second Amendment doesn’t impose any significant barriers to any of the major reforms being talked about,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law and the author of a book on gun rights. “The Supreme Court made clear in the Heller case that there’s plenty of room for gun control under the Second Amendment.”