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Cities Under Fire

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  • Cities Under Fire

    The State of the Second Amendment

    By Geoff Brown

    The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in June in District of Columbia v. Heller changed the playing field for American firearms policy. The decision concluded that the Constitution's Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own guns and held that the District's law banning the sale and ownership of handguns—enacted to stem the handgun violence that has plagued the city for decades—is unconstitutional. One of the amicus briefs presented to the Supreme Court relied heavily on data gathered by the Center for Gun Policy and Research—pages of research and findings that showed the threat to public health when handguns are easily obtained and misused.

    Some supporters of the Second Amendment claimed the decision as a resounding victory. Gun safety advocates were disappointed—and apprehensive.

    Center co-director Jon Vernick points out that the Heller decision explicitly permits many kinds of gun laws, including safe storage requirements and laws barring gun possession by felons; the status of other laws is less clear. Vernick predicts that "in a post-Heller world, our science will be even more important. Having that kind of evaluation and research will make it less likely that an effective [firearm] law will be overturned." —GB

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