The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are referred to as the Bill of Rights.
The Second Amendment provides 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.
Beginning with its interpretation of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense in Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court examined the permissibility of local or state regulation of gun ownership (gun control) in Otis McDonald v. Chicago. Addressing the issue, “Whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated as against the States by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities or Due Process Clauses?”, the Court wrote,
“… with this framework in mind, we now turn directly to the question whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated in the concept of due process. In answering that question, as just explained, we must decide whether the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty … or as we have said in a related context, whether this right is deeply rooted in this Nations history and tradition.”
Two years after Heller, Court held in McDonald v. Chicago, “[T]hat the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller.” This makes the Second Amendment right to posess a handgun for self-defense a Constitutional right which is binding on the states, thereby limiting the power of state or local governments to regulate gun ownership by statute or ordinance.
Click here for the full text of the majority opinion in McDonald, consisting of 45 pages delivered by Justice Alito. The complete opinion, 214 pages in length including the concurring and dissenting opinions by all the Justices, can be downloaded in PDF format here.