Justices say governments can't ban but can restrict handguns
Express-News and wire reports
By 5-4, the court struck down the District of Columbia's strict gun ban as an infringement on fundamental rights. The court's historic ruling interprets the Second Amendment for the first time in nearly 70 years, foreshadowing new challenges to local, state and federal gun laws.
However, Scalia made clear that the gun right “is not unlimited” and still can be restricted by cities and states.
The last time the high court ruled substantively on the issue of gun rights was in 1939, in a case that involved a requirement that short-barreled rifles and shotguns be registered with federal authorities.
Chicago has a statute similar to the District of Columbia that requires all firearms be registered with the local police, but doesn't allow for the registration of handguns — effectively banning them.
The often-strident national debate over gun control has diverged on the question of whether that language means that individuals have the right to own guns or whether that right was limited to members of state militias. Scalia's opinion answered that question squarely in favor of individual ownership.
The ruling, he said, “recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right — sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.”
But Obama said he also identifies “with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures.”