McDonald v. Chicago (Alito)

17 Oct

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guarantees or remedies did not apply to the States. See,
e.g., Mapp, supra (overruling in part Wolf, 338 U. S. 25);
Gideon, 372 U. S. 335 (overruling Betts, 316 U. S. 455);
Malloy, supra (overruling Adamson, 332 U. S. 46, and
Twining, 211 U. S. 78); Benton, supra, at 794 (overruling
Palko, 302 U. S. 319).

III

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, Duncan,
391 U. S., at 149, or as we have said in a related context,
whether this right is “”deeply rooted in this Nation’s his-
tory and tradition,”” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S.
702, 721 (1997) (internal quotation marks omitted).

A

Our decision in Heller points unmistakably to the an-
swer. Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many
legal systems from ancient times to the present day,15 and
in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is ““the
central component”” of the Second Amendment right. 554
U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 26); see also id., at ___ (slip op., at
56) (stating that the ““inherent right of self-defense has
been central to the Second Amendment right””). Explain-
ing that ““the need for defense of self, family, and property
is most acute”” in the home, ibid., we found that this right
applies to handguns because they are ““the most preferred
—————— ———————-
15 Citing Jewish, Greek, and Roman law, Blackstone wrote that if a
person killed an attacker, ““the slayer is in no kind of fault whatsoever,
not even in the minutest degree; and is therefore to be totally acquitted
and discharged, with commendation rather than blame.”” 4 W. Black-
stone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 182 (reprint 1992).

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firearm in the nation to ‘‘keep’’ and use for protection of
one’s home and family,”” id., at ___ (slip op., at 57) (some
internal quotation marks omitted); see also id., at ___ (slip
op., at 56) (noting that handguns are “”overwhelmingly
chosen by American society for [the] lawful purpose”” of
self-defense); id., at ___ (slip op., at 57) (““[T]he American
people have considered the handgun to be the quintessen-
tial self-defense weapon””). Thus, we concluded, citizens
must be permitted ““to use [handguns] for the core lawful
purpose of self-defense.”” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 58).

Heller makes it clear that this right is ““deeply rooted in
this Nation’’s history and tradition.”” Glucksberg, supra, at
721 (internal quotation marks omitted). Heller explored
the right’’s origins, noting that the 1689 English Bill of
Rights explicitly protected a right to keep arms for self-
defense, 554 U. S., at ___–___ (slip op., at 19–-20), and that
by 1765, Blackstone was able to assert that the right to
keep and bear arms was “”one of the fundamental rights of
Englishmen,”” id., at ___ (slip op., at 20).

Blackstone’’s assessment was shared by the American
colonists. As we noted in Heller, King George III’s attempt
to disarm the colonists in the 1760’’s and 1770’’s “”provoked
polemical reactions by Americans invoking their rights as
Englishmen to keep arms.””16 Id., at ___ (slip op., at 21);
see also L. Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights 137-–143
(1999) (hereinafter Levy).

The right to keep and bear arms was considered no less
fundamental by those who drafted and ratified the Bill of
—————— ——————
16 For example, an article in the Boston Evening Post stated: “”For it is
certainly beyond human art and sophistry, to prove the British sub-
jects, to whom the privilege of possessing arms is expressly recognized
by the Bill of Rights, and, who live in a province where the law requires
them to be equip’d with arms, &c. are guilty of an illegal act, in calling
upon one another to be provided with them, as the law directs.”” Boston
Evening Post, Feb. 6, 1769, in Boston Under Military Rule 1768-–1769,
p. 61 (1936) (emphasis deleted).

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