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.

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

    I've never felt the need for a gun myself.

    However now that whatever has said by the Obama Camp to Humas has Israel so upset that they are about to start WWIII.....

    I think I will buy one so that I can protect myself from the invasion which is sure to happen if BO wins!

    The Left Wing is going to be the death of us all!

    McCain 08

    June 26, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Ras-putin

    A so-called "civilized" society...take a good look around you...
    you must be kidding me right !

    June 26, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. mnpilot

    Guns will always find their way into the hands of criminals. If you think that a ban on handguns will somehow change this, then you are either totally blind or completely stupid.

    If you are for banning guns, then you must ban knives, or fertizilers, or airplanes. How about banning your SUV while your driving with a Starbucks and cell phone going? You probably will kill or injure more people with you lack of attentive driving, than I would ever with my gun.

    Grow up, be an American. Just because you don't like something doesn't give you the right to tell me how to live my life. LIFE LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS applies to everyone, not just people that fit your view of the world.

    June 26, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Swampy

    Hey Sarge, I'm a former staff sergeant myself and there's no reason a soldier should have an M-16 either!

    June 26, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. al

    ************************************************

    JUST DON'T GET THE GUNS FELL INTO THE BAD GUYS HAND.
    NOW, HOW DO WE DO THAT.
    1.) BETTER BACKGROUND CHECKS
    2.) RECOVER UNREGISTERED FIREARMS.
    3.) EDUCATE PEOPLE WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF OWNING A FIREARM.
    4.) GET RID OF BAD GUYS (LIKE BUSH)

    STOP THE MADNESS. VOTE OBAMA.

    June 26, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. tom

    i am a democrat but i am a hunter and own many guns i am happy about this and i do wish they can make some sort of permenant law saying we can never take guns away. i wish the court would have made it legal to kill baby rapist.... we have to have our guns because when obama wins this fall king george will declare himself ruler for life and we the people will need our guns to storm washington and take our country back from that texan mad man.

    June 26, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. sarah

    finally someone is willing to stand up for the constiution of our country! fact: if you ban guns, then only the criminals will have guns. fact: if you break in to my house and try to harm my kids, i will exercise my 2nd amendment right and shoot your butt.

    June 26, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Chut Pata

    The NRA keeps confusing people. The right is to bear arms. Registering guns to ensure criminals don't get it, does'nt infringe this right. In all British former colonies, people need a license to own a gun. The license is issued based on a persons clean record and his reason to keep a certain type of gun. This does not stop any law abiding citizen from buying and keeping a gun.

    If we need to register a car to own it, and a license to drive it, what is the problem in registering a gun or even needing a license to use it?

    June 26, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    The conservative justices voted to keep our rights. The liberal justices voted to take them away. In the LA child rape case, the liberal justices voted that a child rapist couldn't be executed. The conservatives voted to fry him. Who do you want appointing more Supreme Court justices, a liberal who sides with rapists, or a conservative who will protect your rights?

    June 26, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Linda Crawford

    A person who commits such a criminal act of this magnitude should be punished (put to death). Now image, if this was your child who was violated by this demon. What would you recommend for his punishment? The media and supreme court has made him a "star", by allowing him to escape his punishment. Yes, he will spend the remaining of his life in prison at the expense of the taxpayers (but this child will never be the same, what about this child and her family). Why not just award these demons to the families of the person who was violated? That's what I call JUSTICE!!

    June 26, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Ariana

    ok then. don't complain when another crazy kid goes to school and kills 30 people. dont complain when another worker goes to his job and kills his employees. americans complain way too much for the problems that they help create.

    June 26, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. independent

    we must preserve the right to defend ourselves,because we have lost trust in our government,after republican's have destroyed our civil liberties.the federal government must stop the war on drugs.it is a war against our own people,and requires those people to protect themselves,from a government,that has been attacking and wrongfully imprisoning it's own people ,for practicing a basic civil right of personal liberty to have control over what one put's in their own body.STOP THE 40-YEAR OLD WAR ON AMERICANS!

    June 26, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. Shasta

    So when the people who shoot up the malls and schools buy guns, are they law abiding citizens at the time, or do future actions get taken into account when you're deciding who is "law abiding" and worthy of having a gun?

    "Gas prices are soaring……and it is badly hurting Americans, and not only at the pumps. The ecomony is going down the toilet; foreclosures are increasing; rising healthcare cost; food prices out of control; and we are in or near a recession. And what do Americans worry about……..their right to bear arms….so much for priorities."

    Thank you. You said it perfectly. And you know the people protesting (literally, not just stating opposition) were the same ones who threw hissy fits when Obama said that they were hiding behind guns and God.

    June 26, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Greg

    Clearly four Supreme Court justices are not doing their job. These 5-4 rulings make it painfully obvious that nearly half those on the bench are not reading the same Constitution. It is NOT open for interpretation.

    This ruling was 100% correct!

    June 26, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Linda1234

    When will the conservatives and the Republicans and the NRA realize that it;s guns that kill people, not the media. Who in the NRA goes hunting with a handgun? Hasn't Columbine taught these people anything? Michelle Obama was a dope as a candidate's wife to express her opinions in public, but let's face it, there's alot about this country I can't be proud of. And America's stance on weapons is one major factor.

    June 26, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. 2012

    Tori, Oregon. Exactly which of your "alternate forms of protection" are you going to put up against a 9MM? Pepper spray? Or are you going to offer some psycho a cup of herbal tea and try to talk him out of raping and killing you?

    JB, "YOU DON'T HUNT WITH HANDGUNS!!!!!"

    YES, I DO!!!!! .44cal, 12" barrel, with 4x scope. It requires better stalking skills and makes the hunt much more challenging than with a rifle. And, no, I don't hang 'em on the wall. I, and many people less fortunate than myself, are fed with my kills. Btw, do you think your socialist idea of gov't will hand out fresh meat? I doubt it......maybe beans and rice on a good day......if you're far enough up the line.

    Anyway, background checks are good. I don't know of a state where it's not already required. Bans on full auto are reasonable. Otherwise, leave it alone, it IS my constitutional right, and, like the man said....."WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD DEAD HAND!"

    June 26, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Will, NJ

    We need to stop terrorists and insurgents from killing Americans, but if Americans kill Americans it must be constitutional. The reason the constitution was made was so that it could be changed to fit the needs of the era! When it was written, there was still a distinct threat of foreign invasion, not to mention displaced Native Americans. Now we have the world's best military to keep us safe and grocery stores to buy food. So it may be time for Old McDonald to get off the porch and hang up his gun.

    June 26, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Jason, Texas

    lame. when is our country going to learn that guns should not be a right unless people are part of a militia (organized police force) or something of that nature. Very few people protect themselves with guns. in fact, more people kill loved ones on accident or escalate problems with guns that cause people to get killed. Amazing that Americans just can't see the writing in the stats.

    June 26, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Concerned Citizen, IN

    First, on the statistics, they show that gun crimes increased by 8 last year from the level they were at when the law was enacted 32 years ago. My guess is the population of DC has grown in 32 years, so an increase of 8 probably shows that the per capita crime rate has gone down.

    Second, the bill of rights specifies the right to bear arms "in order to form a well regulated militia". Homeowners are not well regulated militias and the law only bans one type of "arms". You are still allowed to have shotguns in your house.

    Quick survey though: let's suppose someone is robbing my house and i pull out my handgun and pop off a few rounds. None of them hit the robber, but fly across the street and kill someone. Am I free to go because it was self-defense? Should I pay for my crime?

    June 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. J-M

    Good! As a Dem and avid Obama supporter, I can still say that the second amendment is far more important then people realize. Criminals get guns regardless. Look at the D.C. crime rate, this ban did NOTHING.

    Check out Mexico where guns are banned. Crime there is outta control because criminals know they have guns but law abiding citizens don't...

    The second amendment is there for a reason folks...limiting it to just rifles is nowhere to be found. So, while liberals like myself want to stand up for the constitution on issues like civil rights and wire tapping, then they should also stand up for the issue on the right to bear arms.

    June 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. independent

    in switzerland,everyone gets an m-16.noone commits violent crimes ,there.

    June 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. jfs Memhis, Tn

    The second Amendment was created at a time when there was no plimbing, electricity, autos, telephones, computers, and lots of hostile animals, native americans fighting for their lands, little local law enforcement, or militia. A GUN was as neccessary as clothing. THINGS HAVE CHANGED. If people kill people and guns do not............lets take the gun part of the mix for ...say....5 years and see how many people kill people. The results will be interesting. I own a gun..........but would happily give it up if we could stop the street and domestic violence by even 15%. Hunting rights and recreational use should not be part of the mix.

    June 26, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. J.R.

    There they go clinging to their guns again.

    June 26, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The Court spoke of the "ancient right to keep and bear arms", especially for self-defense in the home, and the trend in modern jurisprudence toward an "individual" rather than "militia" view of the Second Amendment. The dissenters are not persuasive in their attempt to single out DC for its uniquely prohibitive treatment of that ancient right. What Senior Lecturer in Con Law Obama says on any particular day is hardly important now that the Court has spoken, albeit by a slim 5-4 majority. He has never really practiced law, only politics.

    June 26, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. independent

    we should just do whatever president obama tells us we should do.

    June 26, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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