In McDonald v. Chicago, Case No. 08-1521, the United States Supreme Court today issued a landmark decision interpreting the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as being applicable to the States, which means on a practical level that the fundamental right to self-defense and the right to bear arms allows one who may lawfully own a gun to use it to protect one’s home, self and family. This important decision has relevance for business lawyers and their clients as well as every person who seeks to exercise their God-given right to defend themselves.

The High Court’s opinion is available here.

The syllabus of the decision as provided by the Court provides as follows:

Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federal suit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several related City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are un-constitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases—United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535— which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded. JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.

For background information on the case, here is a useful overview from the Cornell Law Institute.