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Missourians React to Supreme Court Decision on Gun Rights

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court--for the first time ever--ruled that individual Americans have a right to own guns for personal use. KSMU's Jennifer Moore talked with locals to get their reactions to this historical decision.

The second amendment was ratified by the founding fathers in 1791. It reads:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Thursday's Supreme Court ruling was centered on whether the Constitution gave the individual the right to have a gun for personal use, or whether the right to bear arms was limited to service in a state militia.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said it was the former: that the second amendment protects an individual right to posess a firearm and to use it for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense in a home.

What this means for Missouri and other states has yet to be seen: states may decide the details of when, where and how the individual can own and operate their guns.

"It is the right of the American people to bear arms to protect themselves."

That's Brent Ball, owner of 417-Guns in Springfield. He was pleased with the ruling, and says there are already too many gun-control laws on the books.

"If they would enforce the stuff already on the books and quit worrying about making new laws...If they would concentrate on the laws that are out know, if someone commits a crime, put them in jail," he said.

He showed me the guns he sells, beginning with handguns in a case.

Moore: This looks like quite a fancy handgun here. What is that?

Ball: Yeah, it's a target 22 pistol....

Then we take a look at the semi-automatic and automatic guns displayed up on the wall.

Moore: These look like massive weapons out of a video game. What are these?

Ball: There are some up here that look like video game guns, yes. You have your AR-15s, which is a military style. A lot of people use them for target sports-shooting, personal defense-type weapons, a lot of law enforcement use them.

Moore: Do people in Springfield have these in their homes right now?

Ball: Yes. This is mainly what I sell. I sell more this stuff than anything right now.

Moore: What would people want to have an automatic weapon for here?

Ball: The people who are buying these are collectors. The prices of them have gone so high it's a very good investment right now. Most people—you don't go your public ranges and see a guy shooting a machine gun on the line. With ammunition as high as it is right now, most of the people who are buying them put them in safes, they keep them for investment purposes.

But not everyone is happy with Thursday's decision. Director of Peace Network of the Ozarks, Dave Davison, says the ruling raises safety concerns for Americans.

"We believe the more guns on the street, the more violence will occur. That is certainly the case that will happen in Washington, D.C. We think the process in general needs to be tightened up to protect the American people."

He says he's not against the idea of having guns for hunting or recreational purposes. He agrees with Ball that the current laws should be more tightly enforced, but feels it should start with the laws of who should be allowed to own a gun in the first place.

"I think that anyone receiving a permit should provide some sort of certification that they have taken safety training programs," he said.

On the same day of the Supreme Court's decision, Governor Matt Blunt signed legislation protecting owners of firearm ranges. The bill prevents owners and patrons of shooting ranges from being sued by people who built homes next to the range.

This, combined with the Supreme Court ruling, made Thursday a victorious day for gun rights activisits on both the state and federal levels.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore