29 Jun 2010

US Supreme Court court extends gun rights

6:02 am on 29 June 2010

The United States' highest court has extended gun rights to every state and city, in a ruling that could ultimately make it easier for individuals to own handguns.

The Supreme court ruled 5-4 that a 28-year old ban on gun ownership in Chicago was unconstitutional.

The court extended its landmark 2008 ruling - that individual Americans have a constitutional right to own guns - to all cities and states.

The right to bear arms previously applied to just federal laws and federal enclaves such as Washington D.C., where the court struck down a similar handgun ban in its 2008 ruling.

Chicago's ban on handguns will now face a fresh judicial review and is likely to be eventually overturned.

Legal challenges to existing laws restricting gun use in other states and cities are also expected.

Chicago had defended its law as a reasonable exercise of local power to protect public safety. The ruling, made on the last day of the Supreme Court's term, was a victory for four Chicago-area residents, two gun rights groups and the National Rifle Association.

The United States is estimated to have the world's highest civilian gun ownership rate, with some 90 million people having an estimated 200 million guns. Gun deaths average about 80 a day, 34 of them homicides, according to US government statistics.