Tags: Scotus | handgun | ban

Justices Blitz D.C. Over Handgun Ban

Tuesday, 18 Mar 2008 12:49 PM

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. capital's strict gun control law faced a barrage of skeptical questions on Tuesday from the U.S. Supreme Court's conservatives.

"What is reasonable about a total ban on possession?" Chief Justice John Roberts asked Washington, D.C.'s lawyer, Walter Dellinger, in referring to a controversial provision barring the private possession of handguns.

Justice Samuel Alito, who like Roberts was appointed by President George W. Bush, cited another provision requiring rifles or shotguns be kept unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock, and said it did not seem as if they could be used as such for the self-defense of one's home.

The highest U.S. court generally seemed supportive of the argument by opponents of the law that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does contain at least some form of an individual right to keep and bear arms.

The court's four liberals seemed most sympathetic to the law during the arguments. "Is it unreasonable for a city with a very high crime rate ... to say no handguns here?" Justice Stephen Breyer asked.

The court's ruling, expected by the end of June, could have a far-reaching impact on gun control laws in the United States, estimated to have the world's highest civilian gun ownership rate, and could become an issue in the November election.

(Reporting by James Vicini, editing by Lori Santos)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

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