The high court has now made clear that they do.
“We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the federal government and the states. Applying the standard that is well established in our case law, we hold that the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the states,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito for the majority.
A 'fundamental' right
The majority justices said the right to keep a handgun for self-protection in the home is a “fundamental” right, deeply rooted in America’s history and tradition.
Justice Alito quoted England's Sir William Blackstone as asserting that the right to keep and bear arms was “one of the fundamental rights of Englishmen.” He said the American colonists shared that view and decided to protect it.
“The right to keep and bear arms was considered no less fundamental by those who drafted and ratified the Bill of Rights,” Alito said.
In a dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said the majority opinion overturned more than a century of Supreme Court precedent. “Although the court’s decision in this case might be seen as a mere adjunct to its decision in Heller, the consequences could prove far more destructive – quite literally – to our nation’s communities and to our constitutional structure,” he said.
“Today’s ruling marks a dramatic change in our law,” he said. “I would proceed more cautiously.”