This week marks an important step in the quest to determine the role the Second Amendment will play in the national campaign to reduce gun violence. On Tuesday, March 18, the nine members of the Roberts’ Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of the District of Columbia v. Heller. The District s strict gun laws, which have been in effect since 1976, were declared unconstitutional in a lower court decision the Supreme Court will be reviewing.
The ultimate decision of the Justices in the Heller case could determine the scope of gun control legislation across the nation. Or the Court might decide to limit its ruling in a very narrow manner. Either way, the issue will be decided by a minimum of five members of the Court. Two of those members, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., are relatively new appointees of President George W. Bush. Those two Justices have already had a significant impact on the activist role this Court has played in several major cases. What a difference two votes can make on a wide range of important issues!
The Supreme Court debate this week will be an interesting political side-show, but the final decision is not expected until near the end of the Court’s term in late June. Whatever the decision of the Court in the Heller case, the real campaign to reduce gun violence can and will continue. No matter their interpretation of the Second Amendment, a wide array of legislative and social action strategies are, and will continue to be, open to the gun safety movement. We at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence renew our thirty-year pledge to you to utilize every possible action to bring an end to the epidemic of gun violence in this nation.