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In Landmark Ruling, Divided High Court Strikes Down Gun Ban

The Supreme Court rejected a District of Columbia handgun ban in a 5-4 vote Thursday, the first time the court has issued a major ruling on gun rights. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal discusses the case.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Today's decision marked the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on the fundamental meaning of the Second Amendment, which reads, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

    The justices today interpreted that amendment as an individual's right to own a gun. Here to tell us more is NewsHour regular Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal.

    Hi, Marcia.

  • MARCIA COYLE, National Law Journal:

    Hi, Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So the last case, the last decision for this season. First, remind us what the provisions are of the D.C. gun law.

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    The D.C. law generally prohibits the possession of handguns. And it also requires that lawfully owned firearms, such as registered long guns, be kept unloaded, disassembled, or trigger-locked, unless they're in a location such as a business or they're being used for a lawful recreational activity.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And it was that law that was challenged. And what did the court rule, the majority? It was 5-4.

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    It was closely divided, 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia held that — as did the lower federal appellate court here — that the Second Amendment protects the right of an individual to possess a firearm unrelated to service in a militia and to use that firearm for lawful purposes, such as self-defense in the home.

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