Supreme Court rules in favor of gun owners
The Supreme Court says 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 strikes down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision goes 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.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home."
In dissent, 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."
A copy of the majority opinion is available here.