http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=azTOCL.ZiDGM&refer=us Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban (Update1) By Cary O'Reilly March 9 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. appeals court struck down a three-decade-old District of Columbia law that bans residents from keeping a handgun in their homes, saying the Constitution's Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington also threw out a district law requiring registered firearms to be kept disassembled or under trigger lock. It's the first time a federal appeals court has struck down a gun-control measure on Second Amendment grounds. Nelson Lund, a constitutional law professor at George Mason University in neighboring Virginia, said an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is ``very likely.'' ``This is clearly an extremely significant ruling,'' Lund said. ``The District of Columbia had some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country.'' The appeals court said it didn't consider whether the district can bar people from carrying handguns in public or in cars. The Second Amendment says, ``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.'' Lawyers for the District of Columbia, which banned residents from owning handguns in 1976 for public safety reasons, argued that the amendment guarantees the right to bear arms only for members of a militia. `Bear Arms' The appeals court rejected that argument in today's 2-1 ruling. ``There are too many instances of `bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense,'' Senior Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for himself and Judge Thomas Griffith. Judge Karen Henderson dissented, saying that because the District of Columbia isn't a state, the Second Amendment doesn't apply to it. Most U.S. appeals courts to consider the issue have said the Second Amendment preserves state militias and doesn't protect individual rights. The exception is the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, which said in non-binding language in 2001 that individuals have Second Amendment rights. Nonetheless, the 5th Circuit said the defendant in that case was properly convicted of possessing a gun in violation of a restraining order. The Bush administration, in papers filed at the Supreme Court in 2002, agreed that the defendant in the 5th Circuit case was properly convicted. The government also argued, though, that the Second Amendment protects individual rights, reversing a decades-old Justice Department position that the provision was designed to let states sponsor militias. The Supreme Court didn't hear the 5th Circuit case. Rifle Association The National Rifle Association, which campaigns against gun control laws across the U.S., hailed the ruling. ``We think the court made the right decision,'' said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. ``We've always thought and maintained that the residents of the District of Columbia are just as equal as residents elsewhere and ought to enjoy Second Amendment freedoms.'' Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, didn't immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. The case is Parker v. D.C., 04-7041, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).