A Missed Point About Heller

I never got around to posting an analysis of DC v. Heller. There have been so many others on the web who have, and have done a better job than I probably could, that I just didn’t do it. (And I succumbed to a bit of Heller “burnout” reading so many of them.) But there’s one point I’ve noticed missing from most of those otherwise excellent blog posts. I’ve mentioned it in a couple of comments, but haven’t really seen it anywhere, so here it is:

Heller will eventually lead to a ruling that a state may prohibit either open carry or concealed carry, but not both.

There are two key passages:

As the quotations earlier in this opinion demonstrate,the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right. The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose. The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute.Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from the home “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” 478 F. 3d, at 400, would fail constitutional muster.


It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon.

DC v. Heller, 554 U. S. ____ (2008), p. 56-57, (PDF p. 59-60)

Heller dealt only with carrying firearms within one’s home. However, by so inextricably joining the 2nd Amendment to the right to self-defense, the Court has left the door wide open to a future ruling that some form of carry (open or concealed) must be allowed outside the home as well. This follows from the simple fact that a person’s right to self defense does not end when he leaves his home. There is ample case law supporting an individual’s right to self defense, and most of it deals with situations where the individual in question is not at his home or place of business.

From this it is simple. If I have the right to self defense outside my home, and that right is “central to the Second Amendment right,” then a law restricting my Second Amendment right only to my home cannot be constitutional. I have that right in any place that I have the right to self defense.

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