Lyle Denniston at the SCOTUSBlog reports:
After a hiatus of 68 years, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to rule on the meaning of the Second Amendment — the hotly contested part of the Constitution that guarantees “a right to keep and bear arms.” Not since 1939 has the Court heard a case directly testing the Amendment’s scope — and there is a debate about whether it actually decided anything in that earlier ruling. In a sense, the Court may well be writing on a clean slate if, in the end, it decides the ultimate question: does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to have a gun for private use, or does it only guarantee a collective right to have guns in an organized military force such as a state National Guard unit?
The city of Washington’s appeal (District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290) is expected to be heard in March — slightly more than a year after the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the right is a personal one, at least to have a gun for self-defense in one’s own home. (The Court took no action on Tuesday on a conditional cross-petition, Parker, et al., v. District of Columbia, 07-335, an appeal by five District residents seeking to join in the case. The absence of any action may mean that the Court has decided not to hear that case. If that is so, it will be indicated in an order next Monday. The Court also may simply be holding the case until it decides the Heller case.)
Here’s a good article about the ineffectiveness of the DC handgun ban.
Dave Kopel posts some background on the history of handgun bans in general.