The Supreme Court on Monday extended the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms to the states in the second major victory for gun rights supporters in as many years.

The justices two years ago, by a 5-4 majority in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, recognized the right for Washington, D.C., residents to register handguns and keep them in their homes. But because of the District's status as a federal enclave, the decision did not apply to states and localities across the country.

The same five justices who formed the majority on that decision were also the majority of Monday's 5-4 decision, which concluded that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment "incorporates" Second Amendment protections not only against the federal government but also against states and localities.

"The right to keep and bear arms must be regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as the States legislated in an evenhanded manner," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.

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