POSTED: Monday, June 28, 2010 - 8:21am
UPDATED: Monday, June 28, 2010 - 8:22am
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Constitution's "right to keep and bear arms" applies nationwide as a restraint on the ability of the federal, state and local governments to substantially limit its reach.
By a 5-4 vote split along familiar ideological 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.
In doing so, the justices signaled that less severe restrictions could survive legal challenges. The ruling involved a 28-year-old handgun ban in the Chicago area.
The ruling was a victory for four Chicago-area residents, two gun rights groups and the politically powerful National Rifle Association.
It was a defeat for Chicago, which defended its ban as a reasonable exercise of local power to protect public safety. The law and a similar handgun ban in suburban Oak Park, Ill., were the nation's most restrictive gun control measures.
Monday's decision did not explicitly strike down the Chicago area laws, ordering a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. It left little doubt, however, that they would fall eventually.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court, said the Second Amendment right "applies equally to the federal government and the states."