NEW YORK TIMES: 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.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, 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.” MORE
RELATED: Gun rights supporters hailed the decision. “I consider this the opening salvo in a step-by-step process of providing relief for law-abiding Americans everywhere that have been deprived of this freedom,” said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. The NRA will file lawsuits in San Francisco, Chicago and several of its suburbs challenging handgun restrictions there based on Thursday’s outcome.
RELATED: “Today’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans,” McCain said in the statement.