Supreme Court extends rights of gun owners across country

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday that state and municipal laws banning handguns for self protection in the home are unconstitutional. This is the first such ruling by the high court.

The ruling states that gun possession is a fundamental American right, and it gives federal judges the power to strike down state and local weapons laws for violating the Second Amendment. It elevates the Second Amendment right to bear arms to the status of a fundamental right that states cannot abridge. The Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected with militia service and to use it for traditional lawful purposes, such as self defense in the home.

The court's majority added a word of caution: the right to keep and bear arms is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner, and the new right is not without limits.

The court struck down two parts of the country's strictest gun control law adopted in Washington, D.C. more than 30 years ago – the ban on private handgun possession and the requirement that firearms kept at home be unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.

While it drew praise from the National Rifle Association, the ruling has seen opposition from gun control groups, which have warned of new legal attacks on existing gun laws. Gun rights proponents almost immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging gun control laws in Chicago and Oak Park, Ill., where handguns have been banned for almost 30 years.  It will be up to the high court justices to rule on the true reach of the Second Amendment.

The court was split along familiar lines, with five moderately conservative justices in favor or gun rights, and four liberals opposed. Chief Justice Roberts voted with the majority.
Published Monday, June 28, 2010 12:40 PM by bulldog
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