Heller told the two sides that they were each only half-right: The right to bear arms is constitutionally guaranteed, but reasonable limitations are allowed.
The first part is something many gun-control advocates did not wish to hear, but it was a needed dose of reality. Before Heller, the goal of some gun-control activists was an outright ban on handguns. Heller removes that possibility for good. Progressives should move on and work within the ruling. This means no longer harboring ideas of a future liberal majority on the court someday overturning Heller. It also means that states and localities should abide by the spirit of the ruling, not just its letter, and not seek to impose undue burdens upon law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
The truth is, it was bad strategy to ever deny an individual right to bear arms and, similarly, the special place guns hold in our culture. That mentality alienated potential allies in the ideological middle of the gun debate — something I learned three years ago when my friend Ben Nelson invited me to Nebraska for my first hunting trip. I returned with true respect for how, in many parts of America, gun ownership is not just a constitutional right but a way of life. It has the same meaning in Nebraska that playground basketball did for me in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Heller understands that reality.