Gun Rights Affirmed by Supreme Court, 5-4

The Supreme Court held Monday that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-defense no matter where they live.

With the 5-4 vote, the the supreme court justices cast doubt on the handgun ban in Chicago, but signaled that some limitations on the Constitution’s “right to keep and bear arms” could survive legal challenges.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court, said that the Second Amendment right “applies equally to the federal government and the states.”

Alito noted that the declaration that the Second Amendment is fully binding on states and cities “limits (but by no means eliminates) their ability to devise solutions to social problems that suit local needs and values.”

The Supreme Court decision did not explicitly strike down the Chicago area laws. Instead, it ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling.

Chicago’s restrictive gun ban is under intense scrutiny by citizens on both sides of the gun control issue because of rampant violence, especially on weekends, with multiple shooting reported with regularity.

Gun rights proponents immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging gun control laws in Chicago and wet suburban Oak Park, which according to The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports that the communities appear to be the last two cities remaining with outright bans.

Chicago has been drawing up plans after the justices heard arguments in McDonald v. Chicago in early March and appeared to indicate the Supreme Court would rule against the city. McDonald v. Chicago was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States striking down certain Chicago gun restrictions. The petitioners sought to overturn a handgun ban, and other aspects of gun registration regulations affecting rifles and shotguns, in Chicago, Illinois as unconstitutional.

The McDonald v. Chicago trial entered judgment in favor of the City of Chicago on December 18, 2008. The decision was appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and combined with a similar case, NRA v. Chicago. Oral argument was May 26, 2009, and the court issued its opinion on June 2, 2009, affirming the trial court’s decision that the Chicago and Oak Park gun regulations pass constitutional muster.
The Second Amendment Foundation appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari on behalf of their plaintiffs. Certiorari for McDonald was granted on September 30, 2009. The NRA has separately filed on behalf of their plaintiffs, and on January 25, 2010 the Supreme Court granted the NRA’s motion for divided argument. Oral argument took place on March 2, 2010 when it appeared Chicago’s gun strict gun ban was in jeopardy, which came true on today on June 28, 2010. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment was incorporated under the Fourteenth Amendment, striking down Chicago’s gun restrictions.

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects a right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.

The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted after the Civil War as one of the Reconstruction Amendments on July 9, 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States. According to some commentators, the framers and early supporters of the Fourteenth Amendment believed that the Fourteenth Amendment would ensure that the states would be required to recognize the individual rights the federal government was already required to respect in the Bill of Rights and in other constitutional provisions; all of these rights were likely understood as falling within the “privileges or immunities” safeguarded by the amendment.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, nearly all of the rights in the Bill of Rights had been applied to the states, under what is known as the incorporation doctrine. The Supreme Court has held that the amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates all of the substantive protections of the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendments, the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment (except for its Grand Jury Clause). The Seventh Amendment has not been held to be applicable to the states

The Due Process Clause has been used to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states. This clause has also been used to recognize substantive due process rights, such as parental and marriage rights, and procedural due process rights. Certain steps are required before depriving people (individual and corporate) of life, liberty, or property.

In Barron v. Baltimore (1833), the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states. While many state constitutions are modeled after the United States Constitution and federal laws, those state constitutions did not necessarily include provisions comparable to the Bill of Rights. In the Slaughter-House Cases (1873), the Supreme Court ruled that the amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause was limited to “privileges or immunities” granted to citizens by the federal government by virtue of national citizenship. The Court further held in the Civil Rights Cases (1883) that the amendment was limited to “state action” and, therefore, did not authorize the Congress to outlaw racial discrimination on the part of private individuals or organizations.

The American Bar Association has observed that there is more disagreement and less understanding about The Second Amendment than of any other current issue regarding the Constitution.