Supreme Court Affirms Right to Bear Arms

The Supreme Court held Monday that the Constitution's Second Amendment restrains government's ability to significantly limit "the right to keep and bear arms," advancing a recent trend by the John Roberts-led bench to embrace gun rights.

By a narrow, 5-4 vote, the justices also signaled, however, that some limitations on the right could survive legal challenges.

Writing for the court in a case involving restrictive laws in Chicago and one of its suburbs, Justice Samuel Alito said that the Second Amendment right "applies equally to the federal government and the states."

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday extended gun rights to every state and city in the nation in a ruling involving Chicago's 28-year-old handgun ban.

By a 5-4 vote and splitting along conservative and liberal lines, the nation's highest court extended its landmark 2008 ruling that individual Americans have a constitutional right to own guns to all the cities and states for the first time.

The right to bear arms, under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, previously applied to just federal laws and federal enclaves, like Washington D.C., where the court struck down a similar handgun ban in its 2008 ruling.

The Supreme Court ruling states that cities and states cannot limit the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. Chicago passed its handgun ban in the early 1980s with the idea that fewer guns would help keep residents safe.

Richard Pearson heads the Illinois State Rifle Association. He says owning a gun does keep residents safe. He cites research that shows gun ownership is safer than playing golf or swimming.

On June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit's decision in NRA v. Chicago and remanded it back to Seventh Circuit to resolve conflicts between certain Chicago gun restrictions and the Second Amendment. The Court of Appeals had upheld a Chicago ordinance banning the possession of handguns as well as other gun regulations affecting rifles and shotguns, citing United States v. Cruikshank, Presser v. Illinois, and Miller v. Texas. The petition for certiorari was filed by Alan Gura, the attorney who had successfully argued Heller, and Chicago-area attorney David G. Sigale. The Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association sponsored the litigation on behalf of several Chicago residents, including retiree Otis McDonald.