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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has come down on the side of the rights of individuals to own firearms in striking down parts of Washington, D.C.'s gun-control ordinance, one of the strictest in the nation. The ruling could force the U.S. Supreme Court to render its first decision on the meaning of the Constitution's Second Amendment since 1939.

By a 3-2 vote, the court issued a ruling (.pdf) that supports the opinion that the long-debated Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals, rather than a group or militia, to own firearms.

The provisions of D.C.'s gun control law struck down by the court banned the carrying of handguns inside private homes and required that all privately-owned, licensed firearms be kept locked or disassembled.

Writing in the court's majority opinion (.pdf), Senior Judge Laurence Silberman wrote, "There are too many instances of 'bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense." Silberman's ruling was considered a challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court to review its landmark 1939 decision in United States v. Miller, which held that the Second Amendment bestowed gun ownership rights on a militia, rather than on individual citizens.

Gun Rights Back to Supreme Court?
In a Legal Times article by Tony Mauro, Cato Institute's Roger Pilon is quoted as stating, "The issue has been teed up by Judge Silberman in such a way that no honest court can avoid dealing with it head-on," referring to D.C.'s probable appeal of the decision. "He has cut through all the fog surrounding the Second Amendment."

It's ruling in United States v. Miller, stands today as the only definitive decision ever rendered by the Supreme Court on true meaning and legal effect of the Second Amendment, which states, "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." In tying gun ownership rights to a state militias, United States v. Miller, established the government's right to limit, through gun control laws, what types of firearms the public can legally "keep and bear."


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