The New Report: Gun Rights Debates

By Kenneth Jost, Oct. 31, 2008

Should restrictions on firearms be relaxed?

The Supreme Court gave gun rights advocates a major victory on June 26, recognizing for the first time an individual right under the Second Amendment to own and possess firearms. The 5-4 decision struck down a handgun ban adopted by the District of Columbia in 1976. Gun rights advocates the very same day began challenging similar bans in Chicago and elsewhere. In his majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia said the decision did not invalidate laws establishing qualifications to buy weapons, limiting the carrying of weapons in “sensitive” places or barring possession by felons or the mentally ill. Dissenting justices argued the ruling misinterpreted the history of the Second Amendment and would lead the court into striking down many gun laws. Gun control groups hope the ruling sets the stage for more reasoned debate over gun regulations by removing the specter of confiscation of weapons. But gun owners plan to use the ruling to challenge licensing schemes and to urge state legislators to ease restrictions on carrying weapons in public.

* Should laws restricting ownership of firearms be relaxed?
* Should laws regarding concealed weapons be relaxed?
* Should criminal penalties for gun-related offenses be relaxed?

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