Second Amendment Cases

In my not so humble opinion, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the lynchpin of the document. Without it, everything else falls apart. What follows are some court decisions that concern the Second Amendment. Not all of them are supreme Court cases, though many are.

The Second Amendment reads as follows:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

U.S. v. Miller (1938)

This decision, made in 1938 is the only 20th century case regarding the Second Amendment to make it to the Supreme Court. Prior to Heller(below) it was the most quoted, and misquoted of all Supreme Court rulings that I've ever seen. The following has only one link, but the document linked has an amazing wealth of information about the case in question. You will be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive treatment of the case on the internet.

The District of Columba v. Heller (2008)

The case was originally named Shelly Parker, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al. but has since been renamed to DC v. Heller, as Parker was dismissed from the suit for lack of standing. This is one of the most important Second Amendment cases to come along since US v. Miller. With this decision, the Supreme Court declared that the Second Amendment is an individual right, and not a collective one.


The case had previously been heard at the D.C. Court of Appeals. The appeals court ruled strongly in favor of the Second Amendment being an individual right. The deciding judges include a lot of scholarship on the 2nd Amendment and really did a good job of covering the history and real purpose of the amendment better than just about anything else I've seen. As such, it's worth including with the Supreme Court decision.

McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010)

With this decision, the court determined that the Second Amendment applies to the States via 'incorporation' through the Fourteenth Amendment


This is an unusual case regarding the Second Amendment because it revolves around a 'stun gun' rather than a firearm. Regardless, it builds upon McDonald in enjoining a state to recognise the Second Amendment as an individual right. Because it is a per curiam decision it is unsigned.

Silvester v. Becerra (2018)

I would not normally include something like a denial of cert here, but this is worth reading. In it, Justice Thomas puts forth a scathing dissent to his fellow court members for denying to hear a Second Amendment case that he thought they should have. I haven't seen writing like this since Scalia left the court.

As of today, (2/24/18), if you are interested in modern jurisprudence on the Second Amendment, the above cases will give you just about everything you need to know. They contain links to the other important cases that led to where we stand, which is a lot better, frankly than the way things stood at the dawn of the 21st century. The remainder of cases below are a mix of cases that are cited in the above, or are just cases that, for whatever reason caught my interest over the years. Enough so, to have taken the time to clean up the HTML to put on this site anyway. For some, I give an explanation for why I include them. I hope to eventually go though them all and do so. Several of the cases below never made it to the Supreme Court, for one reason or another. Either they were not appealed, or the Court denied cert.

Jay Printz, Sheriff (95-1478)
Richard Mack, Petitioner 95-1503

Need a blurb about this.

The following are the supreme Court's opinions, concurrences and dissents.

U.S. v Stewart (2003)
9th Circuit Court of Appeals

I need a blurb for this

Castillo v. United States (2000)
179 F.3d 321, reversed and remanded.

I need a blurb for this

United States v. Dalton (1991)
Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

This is one of the most important, though little known appellate court decisions concerning the second amendment in recent years. This decision basically struck down the 1934, 1968 and 1986 gun control acts. It was not appealed by FedGov, I assume because a loss of this magnitude at the Supreme Court level would have been devastating to all federal gun control laws. See also Emerson below.

United States v. Rock Island Armory (1991)
No. 90-40025. United States District Court,
C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

Similar to the Dalton case above, this case would be extremely important to gun owners if only people knew about it. It held that the National Firearms Act was "originally passed as a taxing statute". Since Fedgov is not allowing citizens to purchase weapons covered under the act (machine guns and the like) because they will not allow them to purchase new tax stamps for them, they have effectively removed the 'tax nexus' from the act, which is what made it constitutional in the first place. Therefore, the entire house of cards of gun control at the federal level is struck down. That would include the 1934, 1968, and 1986 gun control acts.
Why hasn't the NRA informed you of something this important?

United States v. Emerson (2001)
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas

Here's a brief quote from the ruling:
Defendant Timothy Joe Emerson moves to dismiss the Indictment against him, claiming that the statute he is prosecuted under, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), is an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power under the Commerce Clause and the Second, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Emerson's Motion to Dismiss.

Emerson is reference in Justice Stevens' dissent in Heller

Chuck Klein vs.Simon L. Leis, Sheriff (2002)
First Appellate District of Ohio

This is an excellent Appellate-level decision concerning the concealed carry in Ohio. The court did not rule specifically on the 2nd amendment, because it was deemed that the Ohio state constitution itself secured the right to keep and bear regardless of what the U.S. Constitution says.

Bridgeport Rifle and Pistil Club Ltd. v Deleware (2017)

This case was decided 12/7/2017 by the Superior Court of the State of Delaware. It is somewhat a Second Amendment case, in that it concerns the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, but the court made it's ruling based on the State Constitutional provision concerning the right. Previous supreme Court rulings were cited, but because the Delaware version of the Second Amendment is much stronger, and more clear, it was not necessary for the court to even get beyond it. The file below is a 143 page PDF that contains both the majority decision, and the (rather weak IMO) dissent as well. The majority opinion is a mountain of scholarship on the right to keep and bear arms, and is worthwhile in that respect. Unfortunately, it is so heavily footnoted (some pages are 3/4 footnotes), so it will take a lot of work on my part to convert it to HTML from the PDF using the tools I have at hand. Don't hold your breath.