Supremes Appear Set to KO DC's Handgun Ban

In key 2nd Amendment case, Kennedy notes 'general right to bear arms'
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2008 2:21 PM CDT
Supporters of the District of Columbia's firearms ban stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 18,2008, as the court hears arguments in an attempt to overturn the ban.    (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
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(Newser) – The Supreme Court looks ready to declare Washington, DC’s handgun ban unconstitutional, the LA Times report. The justices heard oral arguments in the landmark Second Amendment case today, and swing voter Anthony Kennedy said, “In my view, there is a general right to bear arms.” At issue is whether the provision applies only to state militias or if it protects an individual right to own weapons.

The case is critical because it’s unprecedented: The high court has never used the amendment to strike down gun laws or to protect ownership rights. The four liberal justices appeared ready to defend the ban, considered the strictest in the country. John Paul Stevens said the right protected only “the common defense,” but the chief justice was indignant about the District’s law: “Why is that a reasonable regulation?”