David Souter on Gun Control
Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Bush Sr. 1990)
Petitioner’s prior convictions qualify as violent felonies only if the “restoration of his civil rights” by operation of Massachusetts law “expressly provided that petitioner may not possess firearms.“ In 1994, [that was not so]. To the contrary: Petitioner was permitted to possess shotguns, rifles, and handguns. Indeed, Massachusetts provided petitioner with a firearm identification card that enabled him to possess such firearms.
The Court rejects this on the basis of ”a likely, and rational, congressional policy“ of prohibiting firearms possession by all ex-felons whose ability to possess certain firearms is in any way restricted by state law. I respectfully dissent.
Overturning DC's handgun ban, the court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to own a gun for private use--not only in connection with service in a militia. The 5-to-4 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, left unanswered questions, but also much room for continued gun regulation, short of an absolute ban.
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sandra Day O'Connor
John Paul Stevens
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