Important Judicial Decisions Regarding Self-Defense Law

The following legal decisions concern the law of self-defense. Some of the rulings are final and others are not. They’re presented here to be read for their excellent judicial logic about the absolute right of armed self-defense as established by the framers of the US Constitution.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, USA State Constitutions Providing for Armed Self-Defense ]

  • US Supreme Court ruling: McDonald, et al., v. City of Chicago, Illinois, (June 28, 2010) by Associate Justice Samuel Alito (pdf).
    • This ruling says rights that are “fundamental to the Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty” or that are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” are appropriately applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court recognized in Heller that the right to self-defense was one such “fundamental” and “deeply rooted” right.*

  • US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent in the cert denial of Rogers v. Grewal (June 15, 2020) (pdf).
    • “The right to ‘bear arms’ refers to the right to ‘wear, bear, or carry upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person’….Cases and treatises from England, the founding era, and the antebellum period confirm that the right to bear arms includes the right to carry in public….[I]n several jurisdictions throughout the country, law-abiding citizens have been barred from exercising the fundamental right to bear arms because they cannot show that they have a ‘justifiable need’ or ‘good reason’ for doing so. One would think that such an onerous burden on a fundamental right would warrant this Court’s review. This Court would almost certainly review the constitutionality of a law requiring citizens to establish a justifiable need before exercising their free speech rights….But today, faced with a petition challenging just such a restriction on citizens’ Second Amendment rights, the Court simply looks the other way.”
  • US District Court for the Southern District of California ruling: Virginia Duncan, et al., v. State of California (March 29, 2019) by US District Judge Roger T. Benitez (pdf).
    • This ruling declared that a California state voter-approved ban on gun magazines of more than 10-round capacity was unconstitutional; a violation of the Second Amendment. *
  • US District Court for the Southern District of California ruling: Rhode v. Becerra (April 23, 2020) by US District Judge Roger T. Benitez (pdf)
    • This ruling says “California’s ammunition background check law defies common sense while unduly and severely burdening the Second Amendment rights of every responsible, gun-owning citizen desiring to lawfully buy ammunition.”
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling: Young v. State of Hawaii (July 24, 2018) by Senior US Circuit Judge Diarmuid Fionntain O’Scannlain (pdf)
    • This ruling says the US Second Amendment protects the right to carry a gun openly in public for self-defense.*

[ Read the SemperVerus article, The 5 Elements of Self-Defense Law ]


For all the USA federal laws pertaining to firearms, see US Code Chapter 44—Firearm Laws and US Code Chapter 44—Firearm Laws Appendix, as well as USCCA’s Federal Defensive Firearms Laws.

And learn about USA state gun laws at


The Following Constitutional Summary
Is Provided by US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock in McCarthy v. Baker

➢ The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
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.

➢ The Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 592 (2008).

➢ The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in pertinent part:
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

➢ The Second Amendment “is fully applicable to the States.” McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 750 (2010); see also id. at 805 (Thomas, J., concurring).

➢ The “core lawful purpose” of the right to keep and bear arms is “self-defense.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 571, 630; accord McDonald, 561 U.S. at 767-68.

➢ The Second Amendment “elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 635.

➢ “Commercial regulations on the sale of firearms do not fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment[.]” United States v. Marzzarella, 614 F.3d 85, 92 n.8 (3d Cir. 2010). Rather, “prohibiting the commercial sale of firearms . . . would be untenable under Heller.” Id.


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