The California prohibition on assault weapons is unconstitutional

USA: Gun ownership is a fundamental right

The nation's highest judges on Thursday (6/26/2008) ruled unconstitutional a law in the Washington borough that banned handguns in the possession of private citizens. They decided that every citizen had a right to hunt and defend themselves.

250 million firearms

It is estimated that there are already around 250 million firearms in the US. The White House was pleased that the highest court had upheld the fundamental right. The most eagerly awaited verdict was five against four. It means a great victory for the powerful four million member organization of the US Gun Owners (NRA), which has always seen gun ownership as a guaranteed civil liberty.

The right rifle for every shot: An arms dealer in Pomona, California

The NRA and other opponents of gun control laws had already announced before the verdict was published that if they won, they would take action against restrictions in place in other states and cities.

Exceptions: the mentally ill and criminals

However, the judges also stated in their ruling that the basic right to possession of weapons is not unlimited. Among other things, they referred to existing regulations that forbid weapons in the hands of the mentally ill and convicted criminals.

In their initial reactions, experts expressed the expectation that there will in fact be a series of legal proceedings against current restrictions. However, some of the existing laws will remain in place.

200 year old law

A security guard in Washington had complained about the ban there - the strictest regulation in a US state or municipality. He relied on an article in the more than 200-year-old constitution, which, however, is very vague. The current legal interpretation so far has been that the constitutional fathers at the time granted militias such as the National Guard the basic right to own weapons, but not every individual citizen. A court found the security guard right in March, and the city immediately appealed. In their judgment, the chief judges interpreted this article for the first time and supported the plaintiff in his opinion.

Judge Anthony Scalia wrote in the grounds of the judgment that the constitution does not allow the absolute prohibition of small arms used for self-defense at home and for hunting. The decision should "cast no doubt on longstanding restrictions on gun possession by criminals or the mentally ill, or on laws that prohibit the carrying of weapons in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings." (cheese)