The dispute over gun rights poses several important questions. Although the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, the court has never definitively said what it means to have a right to keep and bear arms. The justices also could indicate whether, even with a strong statement in support of gun rights, Washington’s handgun ban and other gun control laws can be upheld.
Officials at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said recently that they expect Washington’s 32-year-old handgun ban to fall but believe that background checks, limits on large-volume gun sales and prohibitions on certain categories of weapons can survive.
In addition to the guns case, the justices are still weighing whether Exxon Mobil Corp. has to pay a $2.5 billion punitive damages judgment over the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989 and whether people convicted of raping children may be executed.