At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” applies to all people or only to “a well regulated militia.” The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.

If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the amendment’s scope. The court disappointed gun owner groups in 2003 when it refused to take up a challenge to California’s ban on assault weapons.

In the Washington, D.C., case, a lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection.

Congress has also repeatedly said that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms. (Via Cato@Liberty, which has links to more information.) Some articles of mine on the Second Amendment can be found here and here. And this piece is specifically on the militia issue. Many more law review articles on the subject can be found here. There’s also this recent podcast interview with Dave Kopel.