Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Bradley Hays




court, decision, litigation, states, campaign


On June 26, 2008 the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, handed down an opinion that affirmed the ruling of the Federal Court of Appeals and thus struck down the handgun ban in the District of Columbia. The case pitted Dick Anthony Heller against the District of Columbia and had been mired in the appeals process since a February 2003 decision by a lower court upheld the District’s handgun ban as constitutional. Gun policy in the United States has recently become a controversial issue. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states that, “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”. It has been debated as to what is specifically meant by such an ambiguous clause. However, a textual analysis of the Second Amendment is not the purpose of this paper. Instead the litigation campaign surrounding District of Columbia v. Heller, disseminated by major players such as the National Rifle Association and the Cato Institute will be used to establish a reference point the future of gun control litigation as well as a framework to compare past litigation campaigns. By studying the impact of the litigation campaign leading up to the final decision of the Supreme Court we can better understand what it was about this campaign in particular that saw the conservative viewpoint win the day, why it did so, and explore the actions of the different groups involved leading up to the rendering of the decision along with the impact specific groups may or may not have had on the opinions written by Justices Scalia, Stevens, and Breyer.