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. I Like My Rights

    Criminals will have guns no matter what the law says. Thats why they are criminals! Having a handgun ban will do nothing to stop "criminal" activity.
    I don't believe that having a handgun ban (or any weapons ban for that matter) really does anything to reduce crime. It just prevents law abiding citizens from having handguns. Just like a lock on a door only keeps out honest people.
    A weapons ban is a band-aid for deeper social/ economic issues that should be addressed instead. Don't punish the gun owner, punish the gun abuser. Seems like we are way to lenient with those that perpetrate crime than we are with those that don't. Why aren't we making punishment for gun related crimes more harsh?

    Final thought:

    What about all the car related deaths that occur in our country? If we are just looking at statistics, cars would have been outlawed a long time ago. It doesn't say anything about owning a car in the constitution does it? But it does talk about the right to bear arms...

    June 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Real Change

    Cue the idiots from both sides who try to make an extremely difficult subject simple.

    In my life I have seen both sides of this issue. On the one hand I know a guy who was the victim of a home invasion. They asked if they could barrow his phone, did so, went away, but then came back. This time with weapons and tried to kill him. He owned a handgun, and when they came back he protected himself. He killed one and wounded the other and was wounded himself. But he would have been killed if he didn’t own a gun. To tell this guy now that he can no longer keep a gun in his house is a little ludicrous.

    On the other hand I know a guy who suffered from depression. He had a long running history of failing to take his medication. The man was a mature happy human being. He was an Episcopal Priest. One day, while his wife was out-of-town, and not there to keep an eye on his medication, he became very depressed. So he simply went down to the local K-Mart and bought a gun. No background check, no waiting period, no questions asked; walked out of the store with it the same night. Went about 5 miles out in the country and blew his own brains out. What a stupid waist! And so easily avoidable with just a few basic minimally intrusive laws.

    This give this extremely difficult issue the respect it deserves please!

    June 26, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Chris

    LOL...DC is now cocked and ready to be a wild, wild west!!!
    Man you have 5 Justices that are just idiots!!! Those five should be impeached from the bench!!!

    June 26, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. jw

    God help us!!

    June 26, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. TJ

    Go ruling for america's right to own guns.

    June 26, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Obama: 2nd Term Carter

    proud army and navy mom June 26th, 2008 11:00 am ET

    we are slowly going from a civilized society to uncivilized. what goes around comes around though.

    the same people that wants more guns on the street, should not be surprised if they become a victim of a violent crime. the chances of that happening increases with more guns in people's hand.

    CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC

    With or without this ruling guns are on the street. They are the crooks. How is gun rights being upheld going to an uncivilized world? Give me a break. Only having crooks with the guns and outlawing the right of lawful people to carry/have guns would be going to a incivilzed world.

    June 26, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Vanessa

    Is it a coincidence that the people who are protesting against a band aren't the gang bangers but white people. Our capital is one of the most violent cities in America if you are black and poor because of illegal handguns. Children are dying on their way to school. More children die on the streets of Chicago than soldiers die in Iraq. Yet who cares, right? Let's be real, it doesn't really matter unless it's a crisis with white kids. I mean meth hits the suburbs and rural white communities and there's a national campaign, cough syrup is pulled from shelves, shopping limitations are put on sinus medication. Perhaps, these 2nd Amendment protesters aren't so dumb. Perhaps they truly do understand they are protesting for the genocide of black people. Keeps them the majority and black people a dwindling minority.

    June 26, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. BJE

    KEEP THIS GARBAGE OUT OF CANADA

    June 26, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Il voter

    It is Police job to protect innocent citizens.

    June 26, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Sue

    The DC district government should overrule the Supreme Court. Let the idiots in that area shoot everyone down and we can start over with a new Capitol.

    June 26, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Ohioan

    1. It terrifies me how little so many posters here know about their own rights and their country.
    2. The 2nd Amendment has absolutely, positively nothing to do with hunting and everything to do with preventing tyranny with violence.
    3. How many people who say "call the cops when you have a problem" have ever been jumped, mugged, shot, raped? Did you have time to call them while you were being attacked, or did they just come and take a report?
    4. "Civilians don't need them"? The Founding Fathers warned against having a standing army (what we have now). Civilians need them MORE than the military.

    June 26, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. Peter

    Now I guess its time to legislate responsible use and safeguarding of handguns. Like 2 years jail time, mandatory minimum for loss, of a registered firearm, accidental or otherwise. Maybe another 2 years for inadequate storage and protection of firearms. Maybe a $1000 per year per gun tax in order to enforce responsible ownership. Like maybe 10 years jail time for "accidental" death caused by a firearm. Yes you have a righr to protect yourself with gun ownership, but the rest of society has the right to protect themselves against gun owners. With freedom comes responsibility!

    Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it!!!

    June 26, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Jessie

    Another ruling to go ahead and show to the world that we're an archaic society with no real chance of every being a super power again due to our "that's the way it's always been" mentality. Statistics in every developed country have shown a decrease in criminal activities once guns became much, much tougher to obtain. I love how the "Christians" of the nation cling to the ideas of destructive self protection and an eye-for-an-eye mentality on the death penalty when Jesus himself argued against such ludicrous ideals. The United States of hypocrisy is a joke. I think the only good outcome of such a decision would be for one of the five justices, George Bush, Dick Cheney, or any other NRA neocon nut job to know what it's like to have someone close to them injured or killed because of a gun crime.

    June 26, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Jessie

    Furthermore, the only thing the second amendment offers is actually the right to a militia. So, if I wanted to start an army and wage war on the United States or any other country I see as a threat, I could.

    Of course the majority of people in favor of guns can't read anyway, so they wouldn't know what the Second Amendment actually says.

    June 26, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. richard

    Obama is on record wanting to ban handguns. Look it up.

    June 26, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Justice League

    Wait until there is a vigilante incident in the Dixie South, and you might see the current gun laws re-evaluated again.

    June 26, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Joey

    Gun owners – we get it, you love guns. Now how about standing up for the First Amendment and allowing uncensored programming on TV? Freedom Speech is much more important and much, more more under attack than any gun right that allows a militia to be formed. How about standing up for the Fifth Amendment, which is Habius Corpus? Why are you all so keen to defend a portion of the Constitution but not all of it, especially since many of you consider yourselves to be defenders of the Constitution and our rights?

    June 26, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Malama Makena

    The United States has more guns than any other country in the world!

    The United States has more gun murders than any other country in the world!

    What a great country!

    June 26, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. TJ Gorton

    I wish they would ban hand guns. Why does anyone need a gun now a days? They do more harm than good, and this isn't the 18th century anymore. Ridiculous!

    June 26, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. Len

    About time the court says gun ownership is an individual's right, not just a collective right.

    That is how the bill of Rights always read.

    June 26, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Jeff

    I keep harping that if the Supreme Court Justices and republicans are so pro handgun then they should have their offices moved to a separate building that has no metal detectors at the door and where handguns are permitted. If the Supreme Court Justices and republicans love their handguns so much then they should face the same dangers the rest of us do. People are murdered in their offices and Universities by handguns quite often. The conservative Supreme Court Justices and Republicans are all for putting guns in the hands of every yak hoo that wants one, but they lead very protected lives. Let them do without their security like the rest of us and see if they still sing the same tune.

    June 26, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Bill

    Guns-never leave home without them!

    June 26, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. ET from OMAHA

    Correct me if I'm wrong.
    Why allowing people to have guns at their homes or publicly carry hand guns and at the same time have a police in a city? what is the role of the police then? So are we allowing people to render their own justice?
    Hand Guns possession by civilians should be ban and restricted all around USA period. Any civilian with a gun other than a hunting gun should be purely arrested, fined or detained.
    Go ask why the streets are safer in china or north corea.

    June 26, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Helene

    The rest of the world is always startled by this American anachronism : bearing guns for "self-defense." No wonder we have Columbine, Virginia Tech and many other disasters. The more guns, the more violence.

    June 26, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. Cynthia

    I'm really torn on this issue. I think that you should be able to protect you and yours. On the other hand, you see and hear of on the news where innocent children and adults have been killed with handguns.

    June 26, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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