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DC's Handgun Ban Heads to Supreme Court

Justices get unprecedented crack at Second Amendment
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2008 1:57 PM CDT
DC's Handgun Ban Heads to Supreme Court
Police patrol a plaza in Washington on Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Southeast Washington is wracked by gun violence, despite a 31-year-old law in the nation's capital that bars ownership of handguns.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – John Roberts' Supreme Court will get a rare crack at an undefined piece of the Bill of Rights this week when it examines whether Washington, DC's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment. Though Americans' right to bear arms has been debated for 200 years, reports the Washington Post, the court will clarify whether the Constitution guarantees an individual right to gun ownership or if it relates only to militia service. 

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With no precedent to work from, the justices will "write on a clean slate," said one law professor. Even if the court rules in favor of gun ownership, it may find the Second Amendment doesn't fully apply to DC, or that the ban falls under reasonable government restrictions—a position the White House endorses. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney, John McCain, and 31 states have signed amicus briefs, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have abstained. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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