Education

The Second Amendment and Guns Near Schools

By Mark Walsh — June 26, 2008 1 min read

With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling 5-4 today that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a gun unconnected to a militia, I thought I’d point out the lengthy decision’s few references to schools.

In his opinion for the 5-4 majority in District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia has a passage stressing that the ruling “should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

In his dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer questioned why Scalia believed those exceptions were consistent with the Second Amendment.

“Given the purposes for which the Framers enacted the Second Amendment, how should it be applied to modern-day circumstances that they could not have anticipated?” Justice Breyer asked. “Assume, for argument’s sake, that the Framers did intend the Amendment to offer a degree of self-defense protection. Does that mean that the Framers also intended to guarantee a right to possess a loaded gun near swimming pools, parks, and playgrounds? That they would not have cared about the children who might pick up a loaded gun on their parents’ bedside table?”

The Chicago Board of Education had filed this brief on the side of the District of Columbia, which cited a rash of violence against school-aged youths in arguing in support of letting local communities restrict guns.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.