WASHINGTON, June 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, overturned Washington's stringent gun ban, saying it violated non-militia gun rights under the Second Amendment.
"The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion.
The District of Columbia banned handguns by making it a crime to carry an unregistered gun and barring handgun registration. Separately, the District said no one could carry an unlicensed handgun but allowed the police chief to issue one-year licenses. It also required lawfully owned handguns in the home be unloaded and either dissembled or its trigger mechanism locked.
In affirming the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the court ruled the handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement violated the Second amendment. "The District's total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of 'arms' that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense," the majority opinion said.
Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in his decision. Justice John Paul Stevens filed a dissent, joined by Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Breyer also filed a dissent, joined by Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg.
In his dissent, Stevens said the majority opinion "fails to identify any new evidence" indicating the Second Amendment intended to limit congressional power to regulate civilian use of weapons, instead staking "its holding on a strained and unpersuasive reading" of the Amendment's text."