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Supreme Court declines to clarify gun rights question

The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up a potentially important gun rights case, which could have established guideposts for future gun regulations at the local, state, and national levels.

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Joe Pucci, right, a conceal carry advocate and Virginia Tech freshman, talks with no guns on campus opponents during a Virginia Citizens Defense League rally and counter-demonstration on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.

Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times/AP

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The US Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a potentially important gun rights case examining whether a federal regulation banning loaded firearms from vehicles in a government park violated the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Lawyers for a Virginia man had asked the justices to examine a question left largely unresolved in the high court’s two prior landmark rulings identifying the scope and substance of Second Amendment protections. The question is: Does the Second Amendment guarantee a right to bear arms in public for personal protection?

The court dismissed the case in a one-line order without comment. The action leaves lower court rulings intact and postpones the prospect of high court clarification on a key gun rights issue.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment establishes a fundamental right of law-abiding individuals to keep a handgun in their home for self-protection. In 2010, the high court extended that ruling to apply Second Amendment guarantees beyond federal enclaves like Washington, D.C., to all state and local jurisdictions.

The dismissed appeal, Masciandaro v. US (10-11212), had asked the court to examine whether Americans have a right to carry loaded weapons in public places for self defense. 

How the justices answered that question would have established guideposts for future gun regulations at the local, state, and national levels of government.

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