June 27, 2008
Justices, 5-4, Endorse Right to Own Gun for Private Use
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday embraced the long-disputed view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun for personal use, ruling 5 to 4 that there is a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.
The landmark ruling overturned the District of Columbia ban on handguns, the strictest gun-control law in the country, and appeared certain to usher in a new round of litigation over gun rights throughout the country.
The court rejected the view that the Second Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms” applied to gun ownership only in connection with service in the “well regulated militia” to which the amendment refers.
Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion, his most important in his 22 years on the court, said that the justices were “aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country” and “take seriously” the arguments in favor of prohibiting handgun ownership.
“But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table,” he said, adding, “It is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”