Westchester based Criminal Defense Law Firm, Tilem & Campbell, is following with great interest the case of District of Columbia v. Heller which was argued in the United States Supreme Court yesterday morning. Peter H. Tilem, Senior Partner at the firm is a former member of the Firearms Trafficking Unit of the New York County District Attorney’s Office and has handled numerous firearms and weapons related cases both as a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. The firm, Tilem & Campbell owns the domain name handgunattorney.com and has handled numerous firearms and weapons related cases in both Federal and State Court.
The Heller case involves a Federal challenge to the District of Columbia ban on private possession of handguns. This marks the first Second Amendment case considered by the United States Supreme Court since 1939. The question being considered by the Supreme Court in this case is whether the District of Columbia ban violates the rights of citizens who, though not part of any militia, wish to keep handguns in their home. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has already ruled that the ban is unconstitutional and has struck down the DC law. The decision from the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to have far reaching ramifications.
If the Supreme Court agrees with the Circuit Court, it will mark the first time in this nation’s history that the Supreme Court has applied the Second Amendment to citizens not a part of a State Militia and therefore can have an impact on the gun laws of States throughout the Country. New York City and other localities throughout New York State that have particularly restrictive gun laws may be profoundly affected by the Decision particularly if the Supreme Court Decision upholds the Circuit Court ruling.
While it is often difficult to predict how the Court will rule from the questioning of the Justices, some of the questioning today seemed to indicate that at least some of the Justices will vote to uphold the Circuit Court decision which struck down the DC Law. Chief Justice Roberts asked the lawyer arguing on behalf of the District of Columbia what was reasonable about a total ban and likened the ban to a ban on newspapers in violation of the First Amendment.
While the Supreme Court is not expected to rule for several months, this Firm will continue to monitor the case and report on any decision as soon as becomes available. This Firm will be preparing constitutional challenges to New York gun laws on behalf of our clients in appropriate situations, should the Supreme Court uphold the Circuit’s decision.