Gun owners applaud Supreme Court ruling

FORT WORTH, Texas Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:51pm EDT

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FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - Gun-loving Americans applauded their Supreme Court on Thursday after it ruled for the first time in U.S. history that they had a right to own firearms.

"I think it's great because Americans should have the freedom to own guns and rifles, because America is a so-called free country and that is one of our freedoms," said 16-year-old high school student and avid raccoon hunter Stella Richardson.

She and her mother were buying a new pistol holster for her father at a Cabela's shop in Fort Worth, part of a chain catering to U.S. hunters and gun enthusiasts.

The reaction to the decision was universally favorable among those browsing in the firearms section of the store, where hundreds of handguns gleam in glass display cases in front of long rows of rifles and shotguns.

Individual Americans have a right to own guns, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time in the country's history, striking down a strict gun control law in Washington D.C.

The landmark 5-4 ruling marked the first time in nearly 70 years that the high court had addressed the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"I think the decision should have been nine to zero," said Don Polk, 60, as he browsed for a handgun.

"I think people up there in Washington should be able to protect themselves the way that the rest of us have been allowed to," he said.

Buying a firearm is not a big problem in Texas where it is even possible and fairly easy to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun. A "castle law" enables homeowners here to shoot intruders if they feel threatened.

Bob Schultz, a Vietnam veteran and gun owner in a Dallas suburb, spoke to Reuters in his home as he opened his .38 special to show that it was loaded -- as always.

"I wholeheartedly agree with this Supreme Court decision. But I don't think it will deter the anti-gun lobby, they will continue to crusade against weapons," he said.

Besides two handguns, his main "home defense" system is a 12-gauge pistol grip shotgun with a short barrel. At close range that will put a big hole in an unwanted intruder.

At Cabela's, 71-year-old Bonnie Deberry browsed with her husband for new handguns to add to their collection.

"I think you ought to be able to have one and carry them openly. This country was built on guns," she said.

(Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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