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Attorneys Debate Effects of Gun Ban Override

The Supreme Court's landmark decision overturning the gun ban in the District of Columbia Thursday may have far reaching effects. Peter Nickles, D.C. Attorney General, and Ted Cruz, former Texas Solicitor General, debate the impact of the decision.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    For two different views on the impact of today's Supreme Court decision, we turn to Peter Nickles. He is the Washington, D.C., attorney general. He led the legal team that put together the case for the district.

    And R. Ted Cruz, he served as Texas' solicitor general from 2003 until May of this year. He filed a friend-of-the-court brief against the D.C. handgun ban.

    Ted Cruz, to you first. Your reaction to the court's ruling?

  • R. TED CRUZ, Former Solicitor General, Texas:

    Today's decision, I think, was a terrific decision. It was consistent with the plain text of the Bill of Rights.

    The basic question in this case is: Does the Second Amendment mean what it says?

    On the face of it, the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. And yet, in the past several decades, academic commentators had tried to limit that so that no individual American could claim that right.

    Today, a majority of the court squarely held that every American has a constitutional right, protected in the Bill of Rights, to keep and bear arms.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Peter Nickles, speaking for the district, this was blow to the district.

  • PETER NICKLES, Attorney General, Washington, D.C.:

    This was a blow. And I think it's a very bad decision, in that it throws off decades of precedent. All the circuit courts in the United States, as Marcia has said, came down the other way. The 1939 decision of the Supreme Court came down the other way.

    The district law has been in effect since 1976. And we have found that that law, which was instituted to deal with surging violence in Washington, D.C., has worked. You ask any cop on the beat or any guy in the fire department who goes into these homes, has it helped? They all agree it has helped.

    So now we have to deal with the fact that the Supreme Court 5-4, throwing off all this precedent, has found some clear meaning as to an individual right to bear arms, despite all the history involved. And now we're prepared to go forward and ensure that there is strict regulation of that right.

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