Here's some analysis of the Washington supreme court's decision in State v Sieyes, courtesy of the informative Washington State Supreme Court Blog, a website run by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. The case represents a major victory for gun-rights, although interestingly enough it was a defeat for the appellant in the case before the court. For what it's worth, I think that Justice Stephens had the better approach; the state supreme court probably should have refrained from addressing the issue of incorporation until the federal Supreme Court decided the issue. But that's a question of prudential judgment. I think the majority's opinion is pretty persuasive.
Here's my favorite line from the majority's opinion:
Accordingly we regard the history, lineage, and pedigree of the Second Amendment right to bear arms necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty and fundamental to the American scheme of justice. It is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.Amen to that.
Of course, as the Washington supreme court points out in its ruling, the Washington constitution itself provides significant protections for gun owners. In article 1, section 24 the state constitution explicitly states that:
The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.The Washington constitution makes clear that the right to keep and bear arms, at least under state law, is a right designed not only to allow for a state controlled militia, but also for personal defense.
Which makes me wonder, couldn't the court have decided the case on narrower grounds, basing its decision on the Washington constitution alone, without addressing the question of the 2nd Amendment? This is why I think Justice Stephens' more prudential approach has merit. Why decide a question federal constitutional law if it isn't necessary to do so? And why decide a question of federal constitutional law that is currently before the federal Supreme Court? Wouldn't it have been better to wait to see what the federal Supreme Court will do?