Supreme Court Upholds Second Amendment Gun Right

By MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.

The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks.

In a dissent he summarized from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority "would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons."

He said such evidence "is nowhere to be found."

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a separate dissent in which he said, "In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."

Joining Scalia were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. The other dissenters were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.

The capital's gun law was among the nation's strictest.

Dick Anthony Heller, 66, an armed security guard, sued the District after it rejected his application to keep a handgun at his home for protection in the same Capitol Hill neighborhood as the court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Heller's favor and struck down Washington's handgun ban, saying the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to own guns and that a total prohibition on handguns is not compatible with that right.

The issue caused a split within the Bush administration. Vice President Dick Cheney supported the appeals court ruling, but others in the administration feared it could lead to the undoing of other gun regulations, including a federal law restricting sales of machine guns. Other laws keep felons from buying guns and provide for an instant background check.

Scalia said nothing in Thursday's ruling should "cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings."

The law adopted by Washington's city council in 1976 bars residents from owning handguns unless they had one before the law took effect. Shotguns and rifles may be kept in homes, if they are registered, kept unloaded and either disassembled or equipped with trigger locks.

Opponents of the law have said it prevents residents from defending themselves. The Washington government says no one would be prosecuted for a gun law violation in cases of self-defense.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by c Location: fkt on Jun 30, 2008 at 06:04 AM
    To Anonymous on Jun 26, 2008, to answer your question, is to look at the way our justice system views children. Children are of NO VALUE to them. Kill a child, get 5 years tops! Kill an adult get life in prison or the death penalty. Kill a dog or cat get 10 years or more. See what I mean? The criminals always have more rights than their victims. Hey, but now at least these children can get a gun and start blowing the criminal's head off! That's the only way they will get any justice in this country. Our justice system caddles the criminals. Check out what other countries do to their criminals. That's why their prisons are no full...they kill them! Less expensive that way! We have too many bleeding hearts in this country! Poor criminal..he/she was abuse..so what! So was I, but I'm not a criminal! I don't go around hurting others just because I was hurt! People have to be made take responisilbity for their own actions, period!
  • by Bill on Jun 30, 2008 at 05:06 AM
    I'm allways amazed by the dems constat fight to limit freedom and rights of the people of our country.They want to rule by committe,like the commies.Democrats should have reg. as freedom offenders,just like sex offenders.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 29, 2008 at 07:18 PM
    im for the gun.s and i will always have a gun.if u got no gun in the house they be braking in on you like crazy..they brake in and u with a gun..think how it would be with out a gun in home..well im for one will always have one.now i rest my case
  • by Sam Location: SE KY on Jun 27, 2008 at 08:07 PM
    Dumas, you forgot the "B" in the middle of your name, and left off one "S" at the end.
  • by Catsfanagain Location: Kentucky on Jun 27, 2008 at 03:18 AM
    Ok I tried in the other post (about the Henderson shooting) to explain to people like Dumas about gun control. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO STOP CRIMINALS FROM GETTING GUNS! Do you not understand that if a gun ban were put into place that the only people who would not be able to get guns are the people who actually follow the law?!? Do you have any idea at all how easy it is to obtain a gun illegally? People who follow the law do not kill people(unless it is self defense). Dumas you really need to think what it would be like to hear your front door open in the middle of the night (and giving your beliefs) and the only thing you had to defend yourself with was the 4 inch pocket knife on the night stand beside your bed. Do you think the person walking down your hallway took the chance of coming in without an illegal gun? Think he/she is going to let you see him and live to tell the police? Just think if it was your parents house or your childs house (if you have children.) Guns are needed.
  • by What Location: RIchmond on Jun 26, 2008 at 08:20 PM
    All they did is confirm what was written 2hundred years ago. At least they got this one right. @dumas Location: Lexington You dont like it there is plenty of countries to move to with gun control. Try Mexico, Russia, China, Japan, or the UK. Read up on how it works so well in the UK and australia. People are robbed in there own homes by people with bats and knives knowing no one has a gun.
  • by John Location: Land of the Sheep Home of the Slave on Jun 26, 2008 at 07:29 PM
    Dont be fooled by this anouncement, visit gunowners.org and infowars.com for the real story.
  • by Mike Location: Central Kentucky on Jun 26, 2008 at 04:41 PM
    This is an issue that never should have been debated at all. The Second Amendment is very clear, as pointed out by Justice Scalia. Marxists, Socialists, and ignorant Liberals once again have been thwarted in their attempts to deny Americans their rights under the Constitution. Whether you own a gun or not, we should all say a prayer of thanks that our rights, guaranteed, have been upheld.
  • by Clark Location: Lawrenceburg on Jun 26, 2008 at 03:22 PM
    The early "framers of the constitution knew what they meant by "militia" and it's not the National Guard. Many of the "framers" spoke directly to the point of gun ownership. Australia, Canada, and even D.C. prove that gun bans fail. The "bad guys" will find a way to obtain weapons meaning we need some protection. Police admit their job is catch the "bad guys" not prevent them doing harm.
  • by diane Location: nicholasville on Jun 26, 2008 at 12:15 PM
    this is a great decision!! our individual rights have been upheld and i thank God i live in these united states.
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