Washington, DC - U.S. Rep. Charles W. Boustany, Jr., R-Southwest Louisiana, today made the following statement after the Supreme Court affirmed the individual rights to keep and bear arms in the case DC v. Heller.
"During my tenure in Congress, I have stood as an ardent defender of our constitutionally guaranteed rights to keep and bear arms and have advocated for this position the high Court now acknowledges." Today, Boustany said "It's a shame it took 219 years and a court ruling to affirm what seems to be so explicitly stated in the Constitution, but now that a verdict has been announced there can be no mistaking this is a right guaranteed to individual citizens of the United States."
Earlier today, the Supreme Court announced a landmark decision in the case DC v. Heller, upholding the Second Amendment as an individual right. This is the first Supreme Court decision since 1939 involving the right to keep and bear arms, and is the first to explicitly state the Court's understanding of what that means.
The opinion of the Court in DC v. Heller declares that the Second Amendment encompasses two mutually supportive rights: a right to keep arms and a right to bear arms. These rights are guaranteed to individuals, as private citizens, though the Court ruled a compelling government interest for reasonable regulation exists. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, made clear that the Court's opinion does not prohibit bans on the possession of guns by felons or the mentally retarded and insisted laws barring guns from schools or government buildings and laws putting conditions on gun sales would still be permissible.
Earlier in the year, Congressman Boustany signed onto the Congressional amicus curiae brief with 55 Members of the United States Senate, 249 other Members of the United States House of Representatives, and the Vice President of the United States in his role as President of the Senate. This brief urged the Supreme Court to affirm that the Second Amendment is an individual right, not a collective right, and that it is the burden of the government to ensure that any laws restricting this right must be held to the highest level of scrutiny by the courts.
The Supreme Court's decision came by a vote of 5-4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, and Alito in the majority, and Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer dissenting.