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Supreme Court declines potential major gun rights case, leaving limits intact

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Some saw the case as a potential landmark and as a natural follow-up to the court’s landmark Second Amendment decisions handed down in 2008 and 2010.

Others suggested that in light of the tragic mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the ongoing debate in Congress over gun-control measures, the justices might decide that the timing was not right to examine such a case.  

In 2008, a five-justice majority declared in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right to keep guns in the home for self-protection. And in 2010, the court ruled 5 to 4 that the amendment applies to all potential gun regulations in the United States, including those enacted by state and local governments.

One of the next big questions is what exactly the majority justices meant when they wrote in the Heller decision that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right “to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

Some scholars have concluded that in addition to striking down a Washington, D.C., ban on handguns, the court declared that all Americans enjoy a right to keep guns in their home and to carry guns in public for self-defense.

The Second Amendment speaks of a right to keep and bear arms, not just keep them, they say.

Others dispute this expansive reading of the Second Amendment.

The Westchester, N.Y., gun owners sought to test that view in federal court in New York. They argued that the state could not erect a special requirement to assess a need for self-defense to obtain a conceal-carry permit.

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