COMMENTS: Second Amendment not only for Militias

The right to bear arms was the Story of the Day. All three networks led with the Supreme Court's decision about the Second Amendment. The right to possess firearms does not only belong to well-regulated militias but to individuals too. Washington DC's 32-year-old ban on ownership of handguns in one's home is unConstitutional and was struck down. All three networks led from the steps of the Supreme Court as the Justices grabbed headlines with a 5-4 decision for the second day in a row. ABC's newscast was anchored by substitute George Stephanopoulos.

The Supreme Court had never ruled on what rights the Second Amendment secures since the Bill of Rights was passed. "This is one for the history books," stated CBS' Wyatt Andrews. "This great debate--does the right to bear arms apply just to militias or to the people?--has been settled in favor of the people." So handguns may be limited or regulated but they cannot be outright banned. NBC's Pete Williams called it a "landmark ruling…a huge victory for advocates of gun rights." ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg (embargoed link) could not resist the pun: "The Justices fired a shot that will travel from city to city across the United States."

Both ABC and CBS followed up their legal coverage with speculation about the impact of the ruling on gun control laws in high-crime cities across the land. ABC's Dan Harris predicted "an avalanche of legal challenges to gun laws as a result of today's ruling," with challenges looming in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. CBS' Bill Whitaker quoted statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that gunshots account for 30,000 deaths each year nationwide. Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington DC told CBS anchor Katie Couric why his city had banned handguns: "Simple arguments and low-level crimes end up going bad because people have guns and end up using them."


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