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Ashcroft pledges to defend Brady law

Attorney General John Ashcroft  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The Justice Department will continue to defend the Brady handgun law, despite its recent policy declaration that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday.

"Reasonable regulations regarding the ownership of weapons are appropriate," Ashcroft said in an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live." "Those are reasonable regulations, and they're to be defended."

In a filing with the Supreme Court in May, Solicitor General Theodore Olson announced that it was now the policy of the Justice Department that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to keep and bear arms. The decision reverses a decades-old policy that the amendment only provided a collective right to bear arms as part of a state militia.

The decision by Ashcroft's Justice Department has been savaged by gun control groups, but the attorney general told Larry King, "That's the way it's been interpreted through the vast history of the United States."

"I think it's been clear in history that that right inures to individual citizens of the United States," he said.

The Brady law requires background checks before individuals can purchase weapons. Ashcroft said that measure, and other federal firearm regulations now in place, are reasonable and he will continue to defend them, as he pledged to do in his Senate confirmation hearings.

Thursday, the Justice Department announced it would fight an effort by two District of Columbia men charged with firearms offenses to have their indictments dismissed because of the department's new stance on the Second Amendment.




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