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Commentary
October 1, 2008

The Right to Bear Arms: Constitutional Law, Politics, and Public Health

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2008;300(13):1575-1577. doi:10.1001/jama.300.13.1575

In District of Columbia v Heller, The Supreme Court held, for the first time in its history, that the Second Amendment grants an individual right to possess and use firearms for personal use, which encompasses the right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense. Justice Scalia, writing for a bitterly divided court that split 5 to 4 along ideological lines, said that the Second Amendment “surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”1

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