Forgive me, any time I see someone talk about this part of the Heller decision, I am compelled to fill in the extremely important blanks, which more fully explain exactly what is being said.
Originally Posted by amaixner
[By the way, you quote from the Syllabus portion of the ruling, which is somewhat of an executive summary of the text of the opinion, but which also carries absolutely no legal weight whatsoever. See the definition at the very top of the Heller opinion itself:
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.]
On to the important stuff.
Here is the pertinent quote from the actual opinion text, pp 54-55:
"Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should 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.26"
Note the all-important footnote, 26, which states:
"26 We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive."
What this means is that not only did Heller not state that these prohibitions pass constitutional muster, but they explicitly stated (by using the word "presumptively") that they did not even consider these matters. At all!
As is almost always the case in complex court cases, only the issues at the very core of the matter are considered. This nearly universally misunderstood part of Heller is the fictitious "gas" that the anti-gun crowd is running on, but unfortunately, what many of the lower anti-gun courts are also basing their flawed opinions on as well.