WASHINGTON (CNN) - Judge Sonia Sotomayor said Tuesday that she recognizes an individual right to bear arms as recently identified by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"I have friends who hunt" and "understand fully" the Second Amendment right identified in the ruling District of Columbia v. Heller, she said.
The recent Supreme Court 5-4 ruling concluded that a sweeping handgun ban in the nation's capital violated Americans' constitutional right to "keep and bear arms."
In the 2009 2nd Circuit ruling Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor stated that the Second Amendment right applied only to the federal government, and had not yet been applied to individual states.
In the 2004 ruling U.S. v. Sanchez Villar - decided prior to Heller - Sotomayor rejected a challenge to New York state's pistol licensing law, arguing that "the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right."
Sotomayor stressed Tuesday that her rulings followed a strong legal precedent.
–CNN's Bill Mears contributed to this report