DOJ: News Release

McGrath Joins Friend-of-the-Court Brief in Second Amendment Case

HELENA – Attorney General Mike McGrath said Monday that Montana has joined a friend-of-the-court brief urging the United States Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling that affirmed the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Thirty other states signed in support of the brief, which contends that a federal appeals court was correct in finding that the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“At issue here is whether the Second Amendment has any modern meaning and whether it allows individual citizens to have a weapon for private use,” McGrath said. “We believe it does, and that an outright ban like the one in D.C. is inconsistent with the Constitution.”

The Second Amendment of the Constitution says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The District of Columbia, however, bans ownership of handguns and requires that other guns — like shotguns or rifles — that are kept in homes be trigger-locked or taken apart.

McGrath said the Supreme Court will address whether the Constitution guarantees an individual right to have a gun for a private use, or whether it only ensures the collective right to have guns in organized military service.

The case — District of Columbia v. Heller — centers on Dick A. Heller, a security guard and D.C. resident. Heller carries a gun while on the job, and he applied for a permit to keep a handgun in his home and was turned down. Ultimately, in March 2007, a federal appeals court found in Heller’s favor that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

The District of Columbia appealed, and in November 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The Texas Attorney General’s Office prepared the brief that was filed Monday, and the case will be argued March 18th.

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