s lawyers say the amendment plainly protects an individual's right.
The 27 words and three enigmatic commas of the Second Amendment have been analyzed again and again by legal scholars, but hardly at all by the Supreme Court.
The last Supreme Court ruling on the topic came in 1939 in U.S. v. Miller, which involved a sawed-off shotgun. Constitutional scholars disagree over what that case means but agree it did not squarely answer the question of individual versus collective rights.
Heller lost his suit in U.S. District Court in Washington. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the handgun ban. Notably, it was the first appeals court to strike down a gun control law on the basis of an individual's Second Amendment rights.
What's the effect?
Barnett is among those on both sides of the issue who believe the practical effect of the court's ruling will be limited.
Forty-four state constitutions contain some form of gun rights, which are not affected by the court's consideration of Washington's restrictions.
"There is almost no other enacted gun law that would be threatened by this case,” Barnett said.
The case is Heller v. District of Columbia, 07-290.