It was a 5-4 split with the justices voting along their well-established party lines. In the minority dissent:
In a dissent he summarized from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority "would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons."
He said such evidence "is nowhere to be found."
—excerpted from a web report on Fox News
Hmm. Nowhere to be found... except in the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
People may quibble over whether the right to bear arms is specifically protected in order to create a well-ordered militia, but the words "shall not be infringed" is pretty unambiguous. It does not say "unless people are crammed together in squalid urban conditions which tend to increase aggression and violence in the population".
I can understand the Liberal impulse to ban guns, because I understand the thought process that precedes it. The assumption is that if guns are disallowed, that violence will abate. The problem, of course, is that only law-abiding citizens will pay attention to a gun ban. If law-abiding citizens live in conditions that foster violence, they are merely rendering themselves helpless in the presence of people who might not necessarily feel compelled to give up their guns.
Gun bans are Pollyannish. I don't doubt the good intentions of those who propose them, but I do question their logic. In this country, guns are omnipresent. For whatever reason, there is also a cultural impulse toward violence. The sheep may lay down their arms, but this merely makes them easier prey for the wolves.
It's impossible to argue that guns necessarily make law-abiding citizens safer. Like any tool, they must be used correctly, legally, and safely. Accidents happen. Gun violence happens. Does the impulse to violence disappear if guns are banned? Of course not. Just ask the victims of the knife-wielding student in Japan. People do misuse guns, but the issue is not the gun, it is the animal impulse to violence that is part and parcel of being Homo sapiens.
Gun owners must secure their weapons and ensure that children don't have access to them, and that they don't use them in anger. This requires the kind of individual responsibility that liberals would prefer to replace with legislative mandates.
But to require that law-abiding disarm completely and thus render themselves helpless in the face of criminals who don't respect the laws in the first place is immoral. And as it turns out, unconstitutional.