June 26th, 2008
10:26 AM ET
12 years ago

Justice rules city's handgun ban unconstitutional

 A gun ownership supporter holds a placard in March outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

A gun ownership supporter holds a placard in March outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a sweeping handgun ban in the nation's capital, saying it violates Americans' constitutional right to "keep and bear arms."

Thursday's sharply divided 5-4 ruling gives constitutional validation to citizens seeking the right to possess one of the most common types of firearms in their homes. The gun control issue has been politically divisive for years, and the monumental decision is expected to have broad social and legal implications, especially in an election year.

Watch: What does the ruling mean?

The majority of justices disagreed with arguments that the Washington, D.C. government has broad authority to enact what local officials called "reasonable" weapons restrictions in order to reduce violent crime.

Full story


Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. Nathan

    Hooray for the Supreme Court.Handgun bans only keep handguns away from lawful citizens. Criminals who know that they are the only ones armed can be much bolder in their criminal exploits. Let citizens defend themselves.

    With that said, some regulation is necessary in order to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable.

    June 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. Obama: 2nd Term Carter

    BAD DECISION June 26th, 2008 10:37 am ET

    This is terrible. I grew up in the suburbs of Maryland right outside of DC. That is all you hear on the news, who got shot today

    CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC

    Wow! Did the people who did the shooting ones that had the guns the legal way or punks who this ruling would not affect one way or the other????

    June 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. ANGIE

    PEOPLE CAN GET GUNS NO MATTER WHAT

    June 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Pat Riot

    ProundToBeDemocrat, that is your solution? Disarm the entire county? What if the government turns tyrannical? What if a radical takes office and decides that you and everyone with your similar race or religion needs to be rounded up in camps? What can the people do to defend their freedom? Don't say it doesn't happen because it has happened so many times over the course of civilization. You trust a gun in the hands of a policy officer more than you do in the hands of your neighbor? "This country was founded on one freedom. The freedom from government."

    June 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Andy J, NY

    Ted-

    You obviously didn't read this whole article. There were more handgun related murders last year than there were in 1976 when the ban was enacted... Eyes, open 'em. Read, you should probably learn how.

    June 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Tony

    IT'S OPEN SEASON ON EACH OTHER PEOPLE!

    LOCK AND LOAD! YEE HAH!!

    THANKS TO THE SUPREME COURT WE CAN ALL OWN A GUN AND LIVE LIKE THEY DID IN THE WILD WEST.

    ....AND THANKS TO THE COURT ALSO FOR TAKING FOR ALLOWING US TO RAPE CHILDREN AND NO LONGER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE DEATH PENALTY.

    June 26, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Greg

    The supreme court has reached a flawed conclusion in my opinion. The second amendment was intended to outline the ability of the states to maintain militias to respond in national and state emergencies. Handguns just do not fit into this category. As an avid hunter and member of the military I see know reason what so ever for civilians to posess handguns period.

    June 26, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. MB

    Banning handguns does not deter gun crime. Criminals who want guns are going to get them anyway (law or not). This ruling was the protection of the law abiding citizen to own a gun. Case in point was prohibition. There was more drinking during prohibition than at any other time in history. The only difference was that the criminals were making and distibuting the liquor. You want to deter gun crime, do like the Belgians did. Make it a law that everyone HAS to own a gun. I guarantee that will have a dramatic effect on violent crime.

    June 26, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Sam

    Good for the citizens of D.C. They are not colonist. I wish there weren't any guns but if the rest of the country has the right to arm themselves, then so should the District citizens.

    June 26, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. Ryan, New York, NY

    Michael Lorton:
    With the economy in shambles, actually, it's a very good time to worry about owning a gun. When poverty is increased, crime usually rises, which makes many people more concerned with protecting themselves from people who have turned to crime to better their declining economic situation.

    June 26, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Andy J, NY

    @ Patrick-

    a couple of things...

    First: This case was not about everyone being able to carry a handgun everywhere, all the time. It was about allowing people to keep and bear arms IN THEIR HOME. This right shall not be infringed upon... Check the bill of rights. You might want to also read the writings of Jefferson and some of the other Founding Fathers- their intent on gun ownership was quite clear.

    Second: These are not activist judges who overturned the bad- They are called constructionists- Man, ignorant people are really annoying. I think you need to hit the books, amigo. You really seem pretty clueless.

    June 26, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. john williams san diego, ca.

    criminals beware, you WILL be shot back at..cowards.

    June 26, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    rumpusgoopus June 26th, 2008 10:50 am ET

    That was a given. Could at least one news site PLEASE explain what the decision said about just how much regulation a state/city can put into place! Seriously, this is a far more important issue.

    I don't think that has been decided yet. I want to know the same thing. I agree with it being a given and i also agree that regulation by a city/state is the real issue.

    June 26, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. Unshrub

    Get Real

    why don't you get a brain.

    June 26, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. vic nashville,Tn

    Thanks
    Who gave the bitter statement has to quit the race
    Hillary 08 or Mc Cain 08

    June 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. Obama Supporter

    Hey – Saad from NJ – four of the five justices that upheld the right to keep and bear arms were the dissenters in the child rape case, meaning that they disagreed and thought that states should be able to enforce the death penalty for non-homicide crimes.

    June 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. Jerry Roselle, Illinois

    Since my wife are in our 70's now we can go into the super
    market with our guns and they better have those sale items
    or else!

    June 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. David Axlerod = Karl Rove

    Obama: "I was against gun ownership before I was for it."

    Time to spin that survey in your own handwritting where you stated you didn't believe American's had a right to gun ownership. Oops!

    June 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. NC Voter

    The right to bear arms and unfettered access is there in the Bill Of Rights clear, plain and simple. If you start scrapping parts of the Bill Of Rights, what is next? Surely there is a solution, but the two polar opposites on this issue obviously don't want a compromise since they get to much political fuel from staying far apart. I say they should be put in an iron cage and have to thumbwreslt for it.

    June 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Wayne

    There is no Constitutional right for individuals to have guns in the Constitution. That is an interpretive figment of the imagination of the Supreme Court and Americans who want guns.

    "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 Constitution grants the right to bear arms to people in a well regulated militia–an army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers that is not part of a regular army and is subject to call for service in an emergency.

    Since when are individual citizens owning individual guns for individuals use part of a militia? Only in the fertile imagination of those who distort the words of the Constitution.

    June 26, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. Jasmyne

    A lot of you people ar e missing the big point. During the entire time of this ban criminals STILL HAD GUNS. They are going to have guns regardless of its against the law or not. THEY ARE CRIMINALS, THEY DONT CARE ABOUT THE LAW. As a resident of DC and a female I feel a lot better knowing that I can live day to day feeling safe. The criminals have guns and now I will have one too. No one is going to be able to make me into a helpless victim.

    June 26, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Typical White Person

    For those Bots that slept through 8th grade civics, the right to bear arms is about keeping the Federal Government in check. If citizens can bear arms and belong to state malitias then they can resist an oppresive Federal government.

    June 26, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. BHof

    I agree that this law was only punishing law abiding citizens. Great call by the majority of the Supreme Court!

    I don't understand why lawmakers went after guns. Why not ban certain types of ammunition such as the armor piercing ammo? Or limiting the amount of ammunition that you can buy in a given month. Other than for the use in the military where you may have to shoot at an enemy tank, what is the purpose of this type of ammunition?

    June 26, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. Shannon Shiflett

    that woman needs to spend less time in fear of her active imagination and more time on her diet. i am quite certain she will die of natural causes due to poor nutrition, NOT by a crime in which she would need to defend herself. maybe get into shape, learn a martial art, and then you won't be so fat that you need a gun to fend off a minor burglar. most americans are cowards and fools.

    June 26, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. Joe Six

    Doesn't Obama agree with this decision? He is on record as supporting the right of citizens to own guns.

    June 26, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
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