High court to define reach of gun-control laws

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Gun control advocates are hoping they can win by losing when the Supreme Court rules on state and local regulation of firearms.

The justices will be deciding whether the right to possess guns guaranteed by the Second Amendment — like much of the rest of the Bill of Rights — applies to states as well as the federal government. It's widely believed they will say it does.

But even if the court strikes down handgun bans in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill., that are at issue in the argument to be heard Tuesday, it could signal that less severe rules or limits on guns are permissible.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is urging the court not to do anything that would prevent state and local governments "from enacting the reasonable laws they desire and need to protect their families and communities from gun violence."

By some estimates, about 90 million people in the U.S. own a total of some 200 million guns.

Roughly 30,000 people in the United States died each year from guns; more than half of them are suicides. An additional 70,000 are wounded.

The new lawsuits were begun almost immediately after the court's blockbuster ruling in 2008 that struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban. In that case, the court ruled for the first time that individuals have a right keep guns for self-defense and other purposes. Because the nation's capital is a federal enclave, that ruling applied only to federal laws.

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