Course Hero Logo
Literature Study GuidesDistrict Of Columbia V Heller

District of Columbia v. Heller | Study Guide

United States Supreme Court

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "District of Columbia v. Heller Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Sep. 2019. Web. 9 Dec. 2022. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, September 27). District of Columbia v. Heller Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "District of Columbia v. Heller Study Guide." September 27, 2019. Accessed December 9, 2022.


Course Hero, "District of Columbia v. Heller Study Guide," September 27, 2019, accessed December 9, 2022,



United States Supreme Court

Year Decided



Primary Source


U.S. Supreme Court Case

At a Glance

  • In 2003 Dick Heller, a special police officer in Washington, DC, sued to get the District of Columbia's prohibitions on private firearm ownership overturned.
  • The case was dismissed, but Heller appealed the decision. The appeals process continued until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on June 26, 2008.
  • In a 5–4 ruling, the court ruled that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to preserve the right to self-defense by means that include the private ownership of firearms. Laws limiting the right of private citizens to own weapons for self-defense were ruled unconstitutional.
  • The majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia (1936–2016), with Chief Justice John Roberts (b. 1955) and Justices Clarence Thomas (b. 1948), Samuel Alito (b. 1950), and Anthony Kennedy (b. 1936) concurring.
  • Justice John Paul Stevens (1920–2019) wrote a dissent arguing that the majority opinion's legal reasoning was weak and that it ignored precedent.
  • Justice Stephen Breyer (b. 1938) also wrote a dissent, arguing that the specific provisions in the District of Columbia were reasonable regulations.
  • Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (b. 1933) and David Souter (b. 1939) joined Stevens and Breyer in dissenting.
  • The court's ruling established that the right to possess a firearm in the United States was a right of all individuals, not only of members of a "well-regulated militia."


This study guide for United States Supreme Court's District of Columbia v. Heller offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about District of Columbia v. Heller? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!