06-26-2008, 12:21 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
US court to rule on key gun law
Quote:The US Supreme Court is expected to deliver a ruling shortly that could have a far-reaching effect on gun control laws in the United States.
The nine justices have been considering whether a 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington DC is unconstitutional.
It is the first time in nearly 70 years that Americans' right to keep and bear arms, set out in the US Constitution, has been considered by the court.
Debate over the exact meaning of the constitution has raged for years.
Authorities in Washington DC, which has some of the toughest gun control laws in the US, are challenging an appeal court's ruling that the ban on handguns is unconstitutional.
Since 1976, the private possession of handguns has been prohibited in the nation's capital, while rifles or shotguns are required to be locked or dismantled.
DC city council argues that the ban is needed to help keep violence and murder rates down.
But the ban was challenged by a security guard, Dick Heller, who argued that if he was allowed to have a handgun at work, he also had a constitutional right to have one at home for self-defence.
In March last year, a federal appeals court agreed with Mr Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms and that the DC ban was unconstitutional.
The city appealed against that ruling, with the case going to the Supreme Court.
The justices could now issue a landmark interpretation of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
The debate is centred on whether the Second Amendment, ratified in 1791, protects an individual's right to possess guns, or simply a collective right for an armed militia.
The case has been closely watched, with dozens of outside groups filing opinions, known as "friends of the court" briefs, setting out their arguments for or against the DC ban.
If the court upholds the federal appeals court's ruling, that could spark challenges to gun control laws in other parts of the US, experts say.
The justices' wording in their ruling will also be closely scrutinised to see if they set out what they consider to be reasonable regulation of the possession of firearms.
Surveys estimate that there are 90 guns for every 100 citizens in the US, making the country one of the most heavily-armed nations in the world.
However, there are people who own more than one gun and many Americans do not possess firearms.
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara
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