District of Columbia v. Heller upheld the second amendment right to possess a firearm for private use.
It is considered a landmark case because it was the first time since 1939 (United States v. Miller) the court directly addressed the right to own firearms as an individual right as opposed to one that applied only to state militias.
The case began as a suit challenging the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which prohibited D.C residents from owning handguns. The district court dismissed the case, but it was reversed on appeal.
The Court of Appeals struck down provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act as unconstitutional. The defendants then petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case regarding the specific question of whether the D.C. ordinance “violated the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes.”
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down the D.C. ordinance on the basis of the operative clause of the Second amendment, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” which is understood to refer to a pre-existing right of individuals to possess and carry personal weapons for self-defense and to protect against tyranny.