In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court has struck down a long-standing handgun ban in the controversial McDonald v Chicago case.
Ruling 5-4, the justices affirmed an earlier decision which stated that the constitutional rights enshrined in the Second Amendment trump the power of the states on the issue of firearm possession for self-defense.
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito affirmed that "self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day." However, Justice Stephen Breyer countered in the dissenting opinion that one person’s interest in keeping arms may diminish another person’s interest in feeling safe from armed violence.
Breyer also wrote that "it is at least reasonable for a democratically elected legislature to take such concerns into account in considering what sorts of regulations would best serve the public welfare."
The verdict was welcomed by an array of gun rights organizations, such as the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, but roundly criticized by the Violence Policy Center and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The Chicago law banning handguns has been on the books for 28 years.