Supreme Court Ruling


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High court strikes down gun ban

* Story Highlights
* NEW: Poll finds 67 percent of Americans say Constitution grants right to own gun
* Antonin Scalia: It's not role of court "to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct"
* Justices split 5-4 in favor of overturning Washington's handgun ban
* Ruling could spark debate on whether right to own gun is collective or individual

From Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a sweeping ban on handguns in the nation's capital violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The justices voted 5-4 against the ban, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion for the majority.

At issue in District of Columbia v. Heller was whether Washington's ban violated the right to "keep and bear arms" by preventing individuals -- as opposed to state militias -- from having guns in their homes.

"Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security and where gun violence is a serious problem," Scalia wrote. "That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct." Watch different views on guns in America »

Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who are all considered conservative voices on the court. Justice Anthony Kennedy, often seen as a swing vote, also joined the majority.

District of Columbia officials argued they had the responsibility to impose "reasonable" weapons restrictions to reduce violent crime, but several Washingtonians challenged the 32-year-old law. Some said they had been constant victims of crimes and needed guns for protection.

In March 2007, a federal appeals court overturned the ban, which keeps most private citizens from owning handguns and keeping them in their homes.

It was the first time a federal appeals court ruled a gun law unconstitutional on Second Amendment grounds. What's your reaction to the ruling?

City attorneys urged the high court to intervene, warning, "The District of Columbia -- a densely populated urban locality where the violence caused by handguns is well-documented -- will be unable to enforce a law that its elected officials have sensibly concluded saves lives."

There were 143 gun-related murders in Washington last year, compared with 135 in 1976, when the handgun ban was enacted.

The Second Amendment says, "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 wording repeatedly has raised the question of whether gun ownership is an individual right, or a collective one pertaining to state militias and therefore subject to regulation.

In an Opinion Research Corp. poll of 1,035 adult Americans this month, 67 percent of those surveyed said they felt the Second Amendment gave individuals the right to own guns. Thirty percent said it provided citizens the right to form a militia. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. See poll results »

The Supreme Court has avoided the question since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. The high court last examined the issue in 1939 but stayed away from the broad constitutional question.

Only Chicago, Illinois, has a handgun ban as sweeping as Washington's, though Maryland, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California, joined the Windy City in issuing briefs supporting the district's ban.

The National Rifle Association, Disabled Veterans for Self-Defense and the transgender group Pink Pistols -- along with 31 states -- filed briefs supporting the District of Columbia's gun owners.

In February, a majority of U.S. congressmen -- 55 senators and 250 representatives -- filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down Washington's ordinance.

"Our founders didn't intend for the laws to be applied to some folks and not to others," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, said at the time.

Washington's ban applies only to handguns. The city allows possession of rifles and shotguns, although it requires that they be kept in the home, unloaded and fitted with locks or disassembled.

A VERY bad day for the TERMINATOR & D/C poli-cretins.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Individual Americans have a right to own guns, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday for the first time in the country's history, striking down a strict gun control law in the U.S. capital. The landmark 5-4 ruling marked the first time in nearly 70 years the high court has addressed the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It rejected the argument the right to keep and bear arms was tied to service in a state militia. Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with militia service and to use it for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense in the home. However, he said the new right was not unlimited. The court struck down two parts of the country's strictest gun control law adopted in Washington, D.C., 32 years ago -- the ban on private handgun possession and the requirement that firearms kept at home be unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.
The ruling marked the first time the court has struck down a gun control law for violating the Second Amendment. The ruling won praise from President George W. Bush, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Wayne LaPierre of the politically powerful National Rifle Association, who said, "This is a great moment in American history."It drew fire from gun control groups, which warned of new legal attacks on existing gun laws, and some Democrats in Congress like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said the decision "opens this nation to a dramatic lack of safety."
The four liberal dissenting justices warned of the ruling's consequences. "The decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States," Justice Stephen Breyer said. Although an individual now has a constitutional right to own guns, that new right is not unlimited, wrote Scalia, a hunter. He said the ruling should not be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill or on laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in places like schools and government buildings or laws imposing conditions on gun sales. The Supreme Court's last review of the Second Amendment came in a five-page discussion in an opinion issued in 1939 that failed to definitively resolve the constitutional issue.
In the 64-page opinion, Scalia said an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment's adoption.
"What is not debatable is that it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct," he said. "Few laws in the history of our nation have come close to the severe restriction of the district's handgun ban," Scalia said. GUN POINTED AT BURGLAR WHILE CALLING POLICE
Scalia said a citizen may prefer may prefer a handgun for home defense because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police."
The justices split along conservative-liberal lines in the ruling, one of the most important of the court's current term, in deciding a legal battle over gun rights in America. The ruling came on the last day of the court's 2007-08 term.
Bush's two appointees on the court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both voted with the majority in finding an individual right to keep firearms.
Bush said in a statement he applauded the "historic decision today confirming what has always been clear in the Constitution: the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear firearms."
Republican presidential candidate John McCain applauded the ruling and criticized his Democratic opponent Barack Hussein Obama for comments he had made during the political campaign.
"Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly," McCain said.
"I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms," Obama said, "but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common sense, effective safety measures."
The United States is estimated to have the world's highest civilian gun ownership rate. Gun deaths average 80 a day in the United States, 34 of them homicides, according to Centers for Disease Control data. The ruling was a victory for Dick Anthony Heller, a security guard who lives in a high-crime neighborhood and who wants to keep a handgun in his home for self-defense.
For decades, the meaning of the Second Amendment has been at the heart of a political and legal debate debate over gun control. People have argued whether it guarantees the right to bear arms to individuals or to citizens in a militia. Written more than 200 years ago, the amendment says, "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." In a dissent, parts of which he read from the bench, Justice John Paul Stevens said the court left for future cases the formidable task of defining the scope of permissible gun regulations. "I fear that the district's policy choice may well be just the first of an unknown number of dominoes to be knocked off the table," Stevens said.
(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Deborah Charles and David Wiessler)

Now to find a FFL store/vendor in DC!
So arms must cross into this new gun-friendly zone, and that's where the anti-2nd freaks will try to make that as difficult in D/C as Kalifornia.
Anti-gun nuts cry & bitctch that 30 murders happen every day in the US by use of firearms, I don't doubt them. Do they make such a big fucking deal that many thousands of Americans die daily becuse they have no medical insurance. Screw those miserable, sick, dirt-poor folks who lives are cheap & have no cash to even buy gun or meds to keep them alive, but juggle the statistics to make all legally armed Americans profiled as gang-bangers, drug dealers with mob ties.
Or are the MIB's somehow exempt from the D/C gun SNAFU?
I don't think it's all fishished yet, but it is a start.
Maybe we need one less star on Old Glory and let DC pay PMC's for their protect & serve needs. Call themselves a commonweath, which smaks of a failed British concept of empires lost, as they withdraw from these United Sates of America, and watch it come apart pretty fast!

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