Department of Justice SealDepartment of Justice
Thursday, June 26, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Statement of Brian Roehrkasse, Director of Public Affairs, on Reaction to the Supreme Court's Decision in District of Columbia V. Heller

"The Department is pleased with the Court’s ruling recognizing that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms, including for private purposes unrelated to militia operations. The Court’s ruling is in accordance with the text of the Second Amendment, historical practice, and the Attorney General's 2001 guidance on the scope of the Second Amendment. The Department is also pleased that the Court recognized that, like other constitutional rights, that individual right is ‘not unlimited.’ Thus, the Court appropriately made clear that nothing in today’s ruling casts doubt on the constitutionality of ‘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 addition, the Court appropriately recognized that the ‘carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons,’ such as machine guns, is not protected by the Amendment. The Justice Department is studying the decision but, as was made clear in its 2001 guidance recognizing that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, the Department ‘will continue to defend vigorously the constitutionality, under the Second Amendment, of all existing federal firearms laws.’"