Five members of the Supreme Court on Monday assured state, county and city officials not to worry: the new decision protecting a “right to keep and bear arms” against government action at any level — local, state or national — “does not imperil every law regulating firearms.” But the Court majority did not have any assurances for judges at every level, that they will be spared the duty of ruling on many forms of gun regulation that a legislature, county board, or city council has chosen to enact. And the Court gave those judges very little guidance, in its ruling in McDonald, et al., v. Chicago, on how they are to analyze those laws.
From the decision, Breyer dissenting;
Consider too that countless gun regulations of manyshapes and sizes are in place in every State and in manylocal communities. Does the right to possess weapons forself-defense extend outside the home? To the car? To work? What sort of guns are necessary for self-defense?Handguns? Rifles? Semiautomatic weapons? When is a gun semi-automatic? Where are different kinds of weapons likely needed? Does time-of-day matter? Does the presence of a child in the house matter? Does the pres-ence of a convicted felon in the house matter? Do police need special rules permitting pat downs designed to find guns? When do registration requirements become severe to the point that they amount to an unconstitutional ban?Who can possess guns and of what kind? Aliens? Prior drug offenders? Prior alcohol abusers? How would the right interact with a state or local government’s ability to take special measures during, say, national security emergencies? As the questions suggest, state and local gun regulation can become highly complex, and these “are only a few uncertainties that quickly come to mind.”