This article is about the judicial consequences of the Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in which the court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own a firearm and to use it for self-defense in the home. This article takes a social welfare perspective to consider the impact of this case on future court rulings on taxes and safety programs related to firearms.
The first part of the article discusses the prevalence of gun ownership. The authors estimate that there are 200-250 million firearms in the U.S. (page 5). The authors also discuss the demographics of gun ownership and regulations related to gun ownership. Their review of regulation reveals that there is a layer of federal regulation and that state regulations vary across the country (page 15).
The authors then review the Heller decision, which was the first successful challenge of the Second Amendment in the history of the court (page 17). In this case, the court allowed gun ownership for people who are not in the military. Therefore, parties in future Second Amendment cases are not required to show that they are related to a militia or the military to argue that they should be allowed to possess guns. The authors state that the court's decision shows that "the Court is not locked into strong and rule-oriented originalism" (page 24), meaning that they are not strictly following the original intent of the Second Amendment.
The authors then consider the future of Second Amendment cases. The question is whether the Supreme Court will regulate handgun bans and regulation by states and municipalities. The authors look at the potential public health effects of increased gun ownership, including increased gun violence and suicide, and they look at whether the Supreme Court will deem any kind of gun regulation or taxation unconstitutional in the future.