IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Thursday, the United States Supreme Court issued a historic ruling on the right
of Americans to own guns. The nation's
highest court ruled that the United States Constitution protects the rights of
individuals to own handguns for self-defense in their homes. Five justices
supported the decision. Four opposed it.
decision overturned a thirty-two-year-old ban on handguns in Washington,
D.C. The Supreme Court majority ruled
that the gun control law in the nation's capital made it too difficult to own a
handgun. The Court also struck down the
city's requirement that larger guns kept at home must be taken apart or have
experts have long debated the meaning of the Second Amendment to the
Constitution, which was written more than two hundred years ago. Some experts
argued that the amendment guaranteed the right of individuals to own guns.
Others argued that it only applied to state militias, armies of citizens. That amendment says: "A well regulated
militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the
people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The Court ruled that this does not limit gun
ownership to service in a militia.
Justice John Paul Stevens was among the four in the
minority who strongly opposed the ruling. He said decisions about gun control
should be made by legislatures.
the Court recognized that the individual right to have a gun is not unlimited.
It said the ruling does not mean that laws against carrying hidden weapons
should be ended.
Court noted that other long-standing gun restrictions remain in effect. These
restrictions include a ban on the possession of guns by convicted criminals and
the mentally ill. They also include
laws that ban weapons from being carried into schools and government buildings.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty said he was not happy with the Supreme Court ruling. He said he believes that more handguns in
the city will mean more gun violence. Several other American cities also ban
handguns and other weapons.
Bush welcomed the decision. The White
House released a statement saying the president strongly agrees with the
Court's majority opinion.
Party presidential candidate John McCain praised the decision as a major
victory for freedom in the United States.
Party presidential candidate Barack Obama also released a statement on the
Court ruling. He said it would help
guide local communities trying to balance the right of gun owners with the need
to protect citizens in high crime areas.
time the Supreme Court dealt with the Second Amendment and gun ownership was in
nineteen thirty-nine. However, at that
time the Court did not directly settle the question of whether individual
citizens have a right to have guns.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by
Brianna Blake. You can find scripts and download audio on our Web site,
voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.