*** I strongly recommend that you read this excellent SCOTUS Blog post and this one all the way through before commenting. Thanks. ***
* 9:51 am - This could get interesting…
Chicago’s handgun ban, which has lasted for more than a quarter-century, came under threat Thursday when the Supreme Court decided that Washington D.C.’s law against handgun ownership is unconstitutional.
In a 5-4 decision, the high court determined that Americans have the right to own guns for self-defense as well as hunting. The decision, which had been expected, is a win for gun rights advocates and provides a better definition of the rights of Americans to own firearms.
Illinois gun-rights activists have said they expect to mount a quick legal challenge to the Chicago Weapons Ordinance.
It was the first time in nearly 70 years that the court had taken up broad questions about the 2nd Amendment’s protections of the right to bear arms. The city of Chicago, which has had its own ban on handgun ownership since 1982, had filed a brief with the court in support of the ban in January.
* 10:06 M - The opinion can be read here.
Justice Scalia’s opinion stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.
The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home […]
The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.”
* More from the opinion…
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
* Doesn’t this look a lot like legislating from the bench?
It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upperbody strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.
* McCain reacts…
U.S. Sen. John McCain said Thursday that the Supreme Court ruling in favor of gun ownership showed that the Chicago handgun ban has “infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans.”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee called the ruling a “landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States.”
* Daley reacts…
An angry Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday called the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Washington D.C. gun ban “a very frightening decision” and vowed to fight vigorously any challenges to Chicago’s ban.
*** 12:08 pm *** Mayor Daley has already come up with a way around the ban on handguns in the home: Require gun owners to carry extensive insurance.
*** 3:16 pm *** From the Illinois State Rifle Association home page…
The Illinois State Rifle Association, together with Second Amendment Foundation and several individual plaintiffs, filed suit against the City of Chicago in federal court this morning at 9:15 CDT. More information will be made available in a statement from the attorneys tomorrow.