The U.S. Supreme Court extended gun rights to every state and city in the nation yesterday, in a ruling likely to spur new challenges to gun control measures across the United States.
The 5-4 ruling could ultimately make it easier for individuals to own handguns.
Splitting along conservative and liberal lines, the nation’s highest court extended its landmark 2008 ruling, that individual Americans have a constitutional right to own guns, to all cities and states for the first time.
The decision was a setback for Chicago’s 28-year-old ban on handguns, which 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.
The right to bear arms, under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, previously applied to just federal laws and federal enclaves, like Washington D.C., where the court struck down a similar handgun ban in its 2008 ruling.
Gun rights has been one of the country’s most divisive social, political and legal issues. Some 90 million people in the United States have an estimated 200 million guns.
The United States is estimated to have the world’s highest civilian gun ownership rate. Gun deaths average about 80 a day, 34 of them homicides, according to U.S. government statistics.