* 9:43 am - The divided US Supreme Court ruled against Chicago’s gun laws today. An excellent source of information is the SCOTUS Blog. The full opinion can be read by clicking here.
Here are a few stories, but we’ll be updating as the day goes along. The Hill…
The Supreme Court struck down a Chicago ban on handguns, ruling that the Second Amendment applies to states.
A 5-4 decision by Justice Samuel Alito ruled that the Constitution’s guarantee on the right to “keep and bear arms” prohibited Chicago from banning the possession of handguns.
“We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States,” Alito wrote. “Applying the standard that is well established in our case law, we hold that the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States.”
The high court two years ago struck down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban in District of Columbia v. Heller. But the city of Chicago contended its ban was still legal because the Second Amendment, which addresses gun rights, applied only to the federal government.
The ruling broadens the sweep of the court’s 2008 ruling interpreting the Constitution’s Second Amendment as protecting the rights of individuals, rather than just those of state-run militias. It’s a victory for the National Rifle Association, which joined a group of Chicago residents in challenging the city’s laws.
It will open a new front in the fight over gun rights, setting the stage for courtroom battles over the constitutionality of weapons restrictions around the country.
The high court’s 2008 decision said the right to bear arms “is not unlimited.” The majority said the ruling didn’t cast doubt on laws barring handgun possession by convicted felons and the mentally ill or restrictions on bringing guns into schools or government buildings.
* Time Magazine…
The court was split along familiar ideological lines, with five conservative-moderate justices in favor of gun rights and the four liberals, opposed.
Two years ago, the court declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess guns, at least for purposes of self-defense in the home.
That ruling applied only to federal laws. It struck down a ban on handguns and a trigger lock requirement for other guns in the District of Columbia, a federal city with a unique legal standing. At the same time, the court was careful not to cast doubt on other regulations of firearms here.
Gun rights proponents almost immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging gun control laws in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill, where handguns have been banned for nearly 30 years. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says those laws appear to be the last two remaining outright bans.
The City Council could consider new gun-control measures as soon as Wednesday, Mayor Richard Daley said last week.
City Hall has been drawing up plans after the justices heard arguments in McDonald v. Chicago in early March and appeared to indicate they would rule against the city.
In an interview with the Tribune, the mayor said his primary goal would be to protect police officers, paramedics and emergency workers from being shot when responding to an incident at a home. He said he also wants to save taxpayers from the financial cost of lawsuits if police shoot someone in the house because the officer felt threatened.
“If the ban is overturned, we will see a lot of common-sense approaches in the city aimed at protecting first responders,” Daley said. “We have to have some type of registry. If a first responder goes to an apartment, they need to know if that individual has a gun.”
Washington requires gun owners to get five hours of safety training, register their firearms every three years and face criminal background checks every six years.
Gun owners there are further required to submit fingerprints and allow police to perform ballistic tests. They must keep revolvers unloaded and either disassembled or secured with trigger locks unless they have reason to fear a home intruder.
As sweeping as those provisions are, they apparently don’t go far enough for Daley, who hinted strongly at an insurance component to protect police officers and paramedics.
“You have to think about the first-responders. You’re putting them in a difficult position to make decisions. What happens if they don’t make the right decision? A person has a gun, but is [it] the person in the house? Does he have a right to carry a gun or is he the person [who] broke in?” the mayor told reporters last month.
“I’m not laying it out, but there are gonna be many topics we’re gonna talk about and who pays for it. And [the city may require] authorized people like the Chicago Police Department to train you.”
*** UPDATE 1 - 10:35 am *** From the Illinois State Rifle Association…
The following is a statement by Richard A. Pearson, Executive Director, Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the McDonald v. Chicago case:
“On behalf of the officers, directors, and members of the Illinois State Rifle Association, and law-abiding citizens across Illinois, I would like to express my utter delight over the Supreme Court’s decision in the McDonald case. Today is certainly a great day for anyone who believes in the timeless wisdom the founding fathers set as the foundation of our Bill of Rights. As happy as we are with the Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago, we must all keep in mind that our work is not finished. The McDonald decision, along with the Court’s 2008 decision in the D.C. v. Heller case, serve merely as cornerstones to a much larger effort to fully restore the law-abiding citizen’s rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution.”
“In the weeks and months ahead, our legal staff will be thoroughly analyzing Illinois gun control statutes along with the myriad of local firearm restrictions to assess their compliance with the McDonald and Heller decisions. Law-abiding Illinois citizens may rest assured that the ISRA will employ whatever political or legal means are necessary to ensure that no element of government persists in infringing upon their constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.”
“In closing, I would like to recognize the tireless efforts of all of those who helped make this day possible. Among those are the named plaintiffs, the Second Amendment Foundation, the National Rifle Association of America, and the many dozens of support elements who contributed greatly to the success of this challenge to the egregious infringement on individual rights. But, most of all, I would like to recognize the 80 million or so law-abiding American firearm owners whose patience and determination have served as such great inspiration during this 40-year fight to restore honor to, and recognition of, the Second Amendment.”
*** UPDATE 2 - 11:23 am *** From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence…
Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, issued the following statement:
“We can expect two things as a result of today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonald v. Chicago: the gun lobby and gun criminals will use it to try to strike down gun laws, and those legal challenges will continue to fail.
“We are pleased that the Court reaffirmed its language in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment individual right to possess guns in the home for self-defense does not prevent our elected representatives from enacting common-sense gun laws to protect our communities from gun violence. We are reassured that the Court has rejected, once again, the gun lobby argument that its ‘any gun, for anybody, anywhere’ agenda is protected by the Constitution. The Court again recognized that the Second Amendment allows for reasonable restrictions on firearms, including who can have them and under what conditions, where they can be taken, and what types of firearms are available.
“Chicago can amend its gun laws to comply with this ruling while continuing to have strong, comprehensive and Constitutional gun laws, just as Washington D.C. has done. After the Heller decision, at least 240 legal challenges have been brought to existing gun laws, nearly all of which have been summarily dismissed. There is nothing in today’s decision that should prevent any state or local government from successfully defending, maintaining, or passing, sensible, strong gun laws.”