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US Supreme Court upholds individual right to own arms

2 min

In a landmark ruling, for the first time in nearly 70 years, the US Supreme Court upheld the individual's right to own arms. The court struck down a ban by Washington, DC, on privately held handguns.(Report: N.Germain)

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WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) - The Supreme Court ruled on
Thursday, for the first time in U.S. history, that individual
Americans have the right to own guns for personal use, and
struck down a strict gun control law in the nation's capital.


The landmark 5-4 ruling marked the first time in nearly 70
years the high court has addressed whether the Second Amendment
of the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to keep
and bear arms, rather than a right tied to service in a state
militia.


Writing the court's majority opinion, Justice Antonin
Scalia said the Second Amendment protected an individual right
to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and
to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as
self-defense within the home.


Although an individual now has a constitutional right to
own guns, that new right is not unlimited, wrote Scalia, a
hunter.


The ruling came the day after a worker at a plastics plant
in Henderson, Kentucky, used a handgun to shoot and kill five
people inside the factory before killing himself, the latest in
a series of deadly shooting sprees across the country.


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.


The court struck down the nation's strictest gun control
law adopted in Washington D.C., 32 years ago. It bans private
possession of handguns and requires that any rifles or shotguns
kept at home be unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger
lock.


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.


President George W. 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.


In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote, "The decision
threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws
throughout the United States."

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