Court Strikes Down DC Handgun Ban

Justices vote 5-4 in landmark gun rights case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 26, 2008 9:57 AM CDT
Washington Police Chief Police Cathy Lanier, left, and Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, center, and City Administrator Dan Tangherlini, stand outside the Supreme Court.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – 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 US history. The court's 5-4 ruling strikes down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with the Second Amendment, the AP reports. But the decision probably leaves most firearms laws intact.

The basic issue 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. The ruling said the Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.” The dissent rebutted that the Constitution did not intend “to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons."