Until recently, this jumble of clauses and commas was widely interpreted as an expression by the Founding Fathers that, since it's inconvenient to keep a standing army, we'd have to occasionally muster citizen militias. And they'd need arms. The ascendant, NRA-backed view says the Founding Fathers meant for citizens to keep pistols on their nightstands to repel intruders.

But the ruling on the Washington law didn't overturn other local handgun bans, because the District of Columbia is not a state. In the Chicago case, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether handgun bans passed by local or state governments are also unconstitutional. In the meantime, Jackson's lawsuit has been stayed, pending resolution of that case.

"Obviously if the Supreme Court finds that the Second Amendment does not apply to state or local governments, the San Francisco claims will be dismissed," said Juliet Leftwich, legal director of the gun control advocacy group Legal Community Against Violence. "But we're not optimistic that will be the outcome."

If the Supreme Court does overturn Chicago's law, Jackson may very well be able to keep her guns at home, and she could reach for one someday and gun down an intruder. But if her neighbors, friends, fellow congregants, and San Francisco residents indulge their newfound right to leave unfettered firearms around their houses, it's at least as likely that someone will use one of them to shoot someone, either by accident or on purpose, who is innocent.

If Pizzo ultimately wins her case, she might get to pull a licensed Glock .45-caliber pistol from a concealed holster to frighten away gay-bashing bubbas. But she won't be the only one with a right to pack hidden heat.

"On that reasoning, lots of people should get to carry concealed weapons if they have reason to believe somebody in the big wide world should want to hurt them," Kaiser said. "The decision Pizzo and her attorneys would have is taking trigger locks off guns, loading them with flesh-shredding ammunition, and putting them on your hip as you stroll down the street."

While that may be a compelling fantasy, I don't think it was what attendees at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had in mind.

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