I hope he's wrong about the standards the justices will use to decide the case, but I can't say what lurks in the secret heart of a black-robed justice. All I can do is read their opinions, which pay frequent homage to the original language and text, especially when there is no preexisting maze of precedent to confuse the issue.
I therefore agree with Akhil that the justices are much more likely to decide the case not upon evidence from text or original understanding of the Second Amendment (although such matters will undoubtedly pepper their various written opinions), but instead based upon whether they are persuaded that (in Akhil's words) "Americans have established, merely by living our lives freely across the country and over the centuries, certain customary rights that governments have generally respected; basic rights [that] are simply facts of life, the residue of a virtually unchallenged pattern and practice on the ground in domains where citizens act freely and governments lie low."
As noted below, however, I'm less certain than Akhil which way such a consideration will (or should) cut with respect to D.C.'s restrictions in the Heller case, because it turns out the district does not prohibit the use of all firearms for self-defense in one's home.
But I KNOW he's wrong about DC law permitting the use of any firearm for self-defense. He continues the argument:
Well, as it happens, the District of Columbia does not prohibit its residents from having a gun in their homes for purposes of self-defense. (Indeed, the District virtually concedes that such an absolute ban would be unconstitutional.) D.C. residents can't keep handguns in their homes; but they may own "long guns," such as rifles and shotguns, as long as they use trigger-locks on such weapons. And, the District construes its trigger-lock requirement to permit owners to disable the lock where required for self-defense. (Heller argues that under D.C. law he may not unlock a rifle to defend himself against a sudden intruder in his home. But that's a reading of the statute against Heller's own interest -- a reading that would exacerbate, not alleviate, serious constitutional questions -- and the District concedes that Heller may use his rifle for self-defense.)There is no self-defense exception in the law. There ARE other exceptions, such as for recreational shooting at a range, so it's not like the District's legislators didn't know how to include an exception to the law. If you unlock and load your home defense firearm to resist an attacker, you can be charged and convicted. It has happened to people in the past.
I find one aspect of his argument particularly surreal.
Lederman claims that even if the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to own a firearm in the home, it does not do so for purposes of self defense. He's right that the right of self-defense is not explicitly protected. That's because the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed at all -- not for any purpose. That protects the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, for hunting, for resisting a tyrannical government, for target shooting, for historical reenactment, for holding armed tea parties, and even for performing the 1812 overture should someone be so inclined.