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

Justice rules city's handgun ban unconstitutional

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/06/26/scotus.guns/art.court.afp.gi.jpg caption=" 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.

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


    Talking about statistics, perhaps you should go back and have a second look. In 2004 the National Research Council headed a study on the impacts that gun control has on crime and came back with this result:

    “In summary, the committee concludes that existing research studies and data include a wealth of descriptive information on homicide, suicide, and firearms, but, because of the limitations of existing data and methods, do not credibly demonstrate a causal relationship between the ownership of firearms and the causes or prevention of criminal violence or suicide.”

    The UK banned guns and their crime rates increased. Japan has one of the world's toughest gun bans and is still plagued with drug and gang violence. The reason is simple, criminals don't care if the gun is illegal because the robbery/murder/rape they are planning to commit will net them more jail time than the illegal gun.

    June 26, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. NCLaw441

    Guns were banned in DC just prior to this decision, as some on this thread want to do now. Were there no guns because they were banned? Of course not. DC has one of the highest gun murder rates in the country, WITH a so-called ban.

    In my opinion, this was the only correct result. The language in the Constitution is pretty clear. Some in here would like to limit this right, but would scream bloody murder if the First Amendment were limited in a similar fashion, e.g., freedom of the press doesn't include radio, tv and internet, since not specifically mentioned...

    June 26, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. Sen.John McCain't!

    toni says :You know I don't understand why people want guns in their home.

    Yesterday, here in Ohio, a man broke into the house of a 71 year old woman in a wheelchair, she was living with her 42 year old daughter.. at gunpoint he raped the old woman while her daughter was made to watched.. then did the same to the daughter...then he shot them. He stole nothing. IN MY HOME>> THAT WOULD NOT HAPPEN!!!

    June 26, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. Rebecca; Texas

    TO Michael Lorton, Virginia.

    It's called our constitutional rights and it saddens me that you are more concerned about the rise in gas prices (which is inevitable) than for standing up for our protected rights as citizens of the United States.

    We are citizens and not subjects. When you open the door to take away one right you risk losing them all. People who commit crimes will find a way to commit crimes regardless of the laws. It would be a great injustice to take away our constitutional right to protect ourselves .

    The Supreme Court made a good call.

    June 26, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. The Austrian


    Victory for freedom-loving Americans.

    June 26, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. Andy J, NY

    @ Tori
    What alternate forms of protection could replace a gun? Really? Have you ever used a gun? Every had one stuck in your face? I can say yes to both of those, and nothing is like owning a gun for protection. Its a right, and the Founding Fathers made sure that right would never be taken away, regardless of what liberal nut jobs think they can shove down our throats about not needing them or having them will only cause more crime.

    I have several guns, and none of them would ever be used for anything other than target practice and self defense. And let me tell you, i let everyone know i have guns, and do you think someone is going to break into my house knowing i have a big dog and multiple guns? You decide.

    June 26, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Betta go get ya Guns, Playboy

    They bout to be strapped in the District, but it will be LEGAL. I'm loading up the truck to get the AMMO, right now. Ya betta go get ya guns, playboy. They not playing out here.


    June 26, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Scott, Oregon the Left Coast

    Great decision!! When only the police have guns we are all in trouble. They are only human and they can't be trusted!!!

    June 26, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Andy J, NY


    Would you break into my house, or come after me at my house, if you knew i had guns?

    Its as much a deterrent as it is an item for protection.

    June 26, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. Preston M

    Now that the pro-gun people got their wish, I am EXTREMELY curious to see what happens to crime in DC, since that city was their darling in their "gun bans don't work" argument. I'm not saying crime will go down or not, but I simply cannot wait to see if this works or not.

    Also, as an aside, I'm extremely curious to know just how many pro-gun self-protective people actually live in moderate/high-crime areas and not calm suburbs or countrysides.

    June 26, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  11. Typical White Person

    Funny thing I've noticed about Obama and his supporters. They refuse to just come out and say what is the RIGHT thing to do but they will sit back and armchair quarterback everyone else and tell them they are WRONG...

    Deporting illegal aliens is WRONG – so what is right, repealing the laws that limit immigration? You either have the laws and enforce them or you get rid of the laws – pick one.

    Offshore drilling is WRONG, nuclear power is WRONG – so what is right? Rationing gasoline? Oh, yeah, your guy has a suggestion on this one – taxing the oil companies will lower the price of gas and free us from our addiction to foreign oil...

    June 26, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. NObama

    If guns are banned, the only people who will be without guns are those that obey and respect the law. Criminals will always have guns.

    Liberals simply don't get it.

    June 26, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Mike in NYC

    Michael Lorton, Virginia wrote:

    "... And what do Americans worry about……..their right to bear arms….so much for priorities."

    When someone's trying to kick down your door, I think your priorities will change quickly.

    Saad from NJ wrote:

    "Carrying guns is not a good thing – it results in unfortunate situations."

    Concealed carry is a separate issue. This deals with guns kept at home.

    June 26, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. Hmmm

    "Obama Supporter", are you aware that Mr. Obama is staunchly against the right to bear arms, and as a consequence of that, his city of Chicago is one of the most dangerous cities in the country? Hmmm...

    June 26, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Barrister

    Although the text is concise, it is far from clear. “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 "intent" of the framers 2nd Amendment was to ensure the right of the people in states to form their own militia, as they were concerned that congress might try to create a federal standing army limiting states powers. As Justice Scalia admits, times have changed since the 18th century, yet the Court (majority) failed to interpret the Amendment and history of this issue correctly

    The Court clearly ruled in Miller (1939) that the 2nd Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for certain military purposes, but doesn't curtail the Legislatures (the city of DC in this case) power to regulate the non-military use and ownership of weapons. DC's handgun ban was a clear example of this, being a regulated citizen use of gun ownership, that should have been upheld.

    I dissent with the majority opinion of the Court.

    June 26, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. MLG

    AMEN!!!!!! Thank you Supreme Court.

    June 26, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Pot is illegal but you can get it most likely within a few miles of where you live or work. what makes you think that makeing some thing illegal will take out of the hands of people that don't care what the law says .

    BTW guns don't kill people, people kill people. If you want to argue that to many people die every year by guns, you should look at the number of people that die in cars every year. By the same logic maybe we should make cars illegal, or smoking or drinking. maybe we should look at the number of people that die on the job we could make working illegal.

    June 26, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. Swampy

    "Obama wants ...." wrote: Time to revisit Obama's written desire to ban all guns. Although he'll lie and say he didn't we all know better.

    Never have I seen a candidate that tries to hide his true positions on issues as much as this one….and never have I seen an electorate that is willing to let him get away with it as much as this one.
    You really should read more before you spout off. Senator Obama's not hiding anything. His position on the Second Amendment is clear and unequivocal. Here's the pertinent statement, direct from his website:
    "As a former constitutional law professor, Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he greatly respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms."

    Barack Hussein Obama/ Wesley Kanne Clark '08

    June 26, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. Texas Trail Dog


    June 26, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. Annette

    Okay, now scared folks can run around with guns shooting anybody that scares them. What's so ironic about this is that, guns have no name or judgment, those who carry guns IS AS GUILTY AS THOSE WHO KILL WITH THEM. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    June 26, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. Erik

    It's too bad the Court pulled its punch and did not decide once and for all what that bit means where it says "A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state...." I defend gun ownership, but "well regulated" sounds like government control to me.

    June 26, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. Alice

    Those five guys on the big court can't read! Why do they think the 2d Amendment ties the right to bear arms to "a well-regulated militia" ?

    Oh well, at least they said the government can regulate them – even if it cannot ban them.

    June 26, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. Independent in New Mexico

    Not everyone lives in a gated community where they can live without fear of violent crime. Reasonable arguments can be made both pro and con. The facts are that criminals will prey on those who can not defend them selves. If any humor is to be found in this, it is that now the criminals (who are bullies and cowards), will probably be shifting their activities to the suburbs where the majority of the anti-gun population lives, since they will be far less likley to be resisted / shot by their intended prey.

    June 26, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. Mike

    Thank you Supreme Court for reading the Constitution. For those who say the 2nd Amendment applies only to government militias, you need to go back and read about Lexington and Concord. The Minutemen who fired "the shot heard round the world" leading to our independence were not militiamen. In fact they were individual citizens who were defending their right to bear arms against British soldiers and Tory militia who represented the legal government of the time. The framers of the Constitution were not worried about foreign invaders but government tyranny. One of the first acts of the Nazi regime was to ban individual ownership of guns. Besides criminals who use guns are not worried about legality. The only ones threatened by gun control are law abiding citizens.

    June 26, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. Scott, Wichita

    Just remember... Guns don't kill people...

    Bullets do.

    June 26, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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