[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/26/art.sc.ap.jpg caption="McCain and Obama have reacted to the Supreme Court ruling."] (CNN) - Sen. John McCain said Thursday he was “very pleased” with the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Washington’s ban on handguns.
“Today's decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers,” he said in a statement.
“I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.”
In focus: America's relationship with guns
In his statement, McCain criticized Barack Obama for not joining him signing a “friend of the court” amicus brief against the law.
“Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right - sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly,” the statement said.
McCain was referring to remarks Obama made in April when he said that some small-town Pennsylvanians as "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion." Obama said he worded the comments poorly and said he was referring to how some voters focus on social issues instead of economic ones because they don't believe any politician will help them financially.
In response to the Supreme Court ruling, Obama said, “I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures.”
“The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the DC gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country,” he said in a statement.
Obama on Wednesday declined to give his opinion on the ban, telling reporters, “Why don't I wait until the decision comes out and then I'll comment on it, as opposed to trying to prognosticate what the Supreme Court is going to decide tomorrow.”