Gun group sues over U.S. gun bans

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., the National Rifle Association gun rights group filed lawsuits on Friday in San Francisco and Chicago against gun bans there.

"The Supreme Court held yesterday that the Second Amendmentright is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans,"Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, said in a statement."These lawsuits will ensure that state and local governmentshear those words."

The San Francisco lawsuit challenges a local ordinance andlease provisions barring possession of handguns by publichousing residents.

The Chicago case challenges a handgun ban similar to theWashington, D.C., law struck down by the Supreme Court. The NRAalso filed lawsuits challenging gun restrictions in the Chicagosuburbs of Evanston, Morton Grove and Oak Park.

"In Washington, D.C., or in any state, whether you live inthe housing projects or a high end suburb, you have the rightto defend yourself and your family at home," Cox said. "Theselaws all deny that right."

In its 5-4 decision, the court held that individualAmericans have a right to own guns, a finding that struck downa strict gun control law in the nation's capital.

The landmark ruling marked the first time in nearly 70years the high court addressed the Second Amendment of the U.S.Constitution, and rejected the argument that the amendment'sright to keep and bear arms is tied to service in a statemilitia.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said he had expected thedecision to open the door for a challenge to his city's gunlaws.

"I intend to fight any NRA lawsuit that challenges ourcommon-sense gun laws every step of the way," he said in astatement.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera echoed Newsom.

"On the basis of the law as it exists today, I am confidentthat our local gun control measures are on sound legal footingand will survive legal challenges," Herrera said in astatement.

(Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Mary Milliken andEric Beech)