The Blog

Supreme Court Strikes Down Chicago Handgun Ban, Affirms Individual Gun Rights Nationwide

11:00 AM, Jun 28, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of individual gun rights today, striking down Chicago's 28-year-old handgun ban almost two years to the day after the Court struck down the D.C. gun ban.

The ruling in McDonald vs. Chicago is a major win for gun-rights activists who are thrilled to see an individual right to arms affirmed by the nation's highest court once again. The D.C. ruling applied only to federal laws to curb gun ownership because of D.C.'s unique legal standing as a federal city. Today's ruling affirms an individual's right to gun ownership is a restraint on state and local laws as well.

Lower federal courts upheld the two laws, noting that judges on those benches were bound by Supreme Court precedent and that it would be up to the high court justices to ultimately rule on the true reach of the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court already has said that most of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights serve as a check on state and local, as well as federal, laws.

Samuel Alito wrote for the Court, which split along ideological lines, in a rather clinical, citation-heavy opinion.  Alito writes in part, "Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day, and in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right," while allowing, as in Heller, for sensible gun ownership restrictions.

We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.

He also writes a long history of the Court's evolving attitudes about whether Bill of Rights protections act as a restraint on state-level infringements.

The relationship between the Bill of Rights’ guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle. It is far too late to exhume what Justice Brennan, writing for the Court 46 years ago, derided as “the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights.”

Gun-control activists will resort to, as Alito might say, "doomsday" predictions of the blood that will run in the streets of Chicago because of this ruling. But there is no lack of blood running in the streets, now, in this allegedly gun-free paradise. It's just that law-abiding citizens have no means of protecting themselves against the illegall firearms of the city's criminals. Fully 54 people were shot in Chicago last weekend:

Ten people were killed and at least 44 others were shot across the city Friday night into early Monday, including a baby girl who suffered a graze wound to the neck when gunfire erupted at a Near West Side barbecue.

The latest victims were found naked, shot to death and lying face down on railroad property near West 91st Street and South Holland Road on the South Side about 8:50 a.m Monday, according to a Calumet Area sergeant. Both were shot at some point Sunday night.

Now, Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old South Side Democrat who has been threatened with violence by drug dealers for trying to tame his tough neigborhood, will not be the only one without a weapon. This is what he had to say in March, when the case was being argued:

"I just got the feeling that I'm on my own," said McDonald. "The fact is that so many people my age have worked hard all their life, getting a nice place for themselves to live in ... and having one (handgun) would make us feel a lot more comfortable."

Otis McDonald having a gun will not make Chicago any more dangerous, but it will make Otis McDonald a lot safer, so that he can continue his work to make his neighborhood safer for everyone.Update: Libertarians on the verdict.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers