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Monday, June 28, 2010

Chicago's Handgun Ban Ruled Unconstitutional By Supreme Court

Heller points unmistakably to the answer. Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present, and the Heller Court held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the SecondAmendment right. 554 U. S., at ___, ___. Explaining that “the needfor defense of self, family, and property is most acute” in the home, ibid., the Court found that this right applies to handguns because they are “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” id., at ___, ___–___. It thus concluded that citizens must be permitted “to use [handguns] for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.”-- Page #4 McDonald vs. Chicago

Gun rights advocates celebrate a ruling today which declares Chicago's handgun ban, in place for 28 years, unconstitutional.

214 page PDF of the court ruling can be found here. It was a 5-4 ruling with dissent coming from Justices Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote "It cannot be doubted that the right to bear arms was regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as states legislated in an evenhanded manner."

Fox provides background to the case that was just ruled on.

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court appears poised to issue a ruling that will expand to the states the high court's historic 2008 ruling that individuals have a federally protected right to keep and bear arms, following an hour-long argument Tuesday. If so, the decision would mark another hallmark victory for gun rights advocates and likely strike down Chicago's handgun ban that is similar to the Washington D.C. law already invalidated by the justices.

Tuesday's lively arguments featured lawyer Alan Gura, the same man who argued and won D.C. v. Heller in 2008. He now represents Otis McDonald who believes Chicago's handgun ban doesn't allow him to adequately protect himself. Gura argued the Heller decision which only applied to Washington D.C. and other areas of federal control should equally apply to Chicago and the rest of the country.

In D.C. v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled against the Washington D.C. gun ban, two years ago.

Statement by Wayne LaPierre Executive Vice President, National Rifle Association Regarding U.S. Supreme Court Decision McDonald v. City of Chicago: (Via NRA website) News Release found here.

Today marks a great moment in American history. This is a landmark decision. It is a vindication for the great majority of American citizens who have always believed the Second Amendment was an individual right and freedom worth defending.

The Supreme Court said what a majority of the American public believes. The people who wrote the Second Amendment said it was an individual right, and the Court has now confirmed what our founding fathers wrote and intended. The Second Amendment — as every citizen's constitutional right — is now a real part of American Constitutional law.

But, Supreme Court decisions have to lead to actual consequences or the whole premise of American constitutional authority collapses. Individual freedom must mean you can actually experience it. An incorporated freedom has to be a real freedom.

The intent of the founding fathers — and the Supreme Court — was to provide access. Words must have meaning.

The Supreme Court has now said the Second Amendment is an individual freedom for all. And that must have meaning. This decision must provide relief to law-abiding citizens who are deprived of their Second Amendment rights.

I'm a practical guy. I don't want to win on philosophy and lose on freedom. The end question is, can law-abiding men and women go out and buy and own a firearm? Today the Supreme Court said yes — anywhere they live!

This decision cannot lead to different measures of freedom, depending on what part of the country you live in. City by city, person by person, this decision must be more than a philosophical victory. An individual right is no right at all if individuals can't access it. Proof of Heller and McDonald will be law abiding citizens, one by one, purchasing and owning firearms.

The NRA will work to ensure this constitutional victory is not transformed into a practical defeat by activist judges, defiant city councils, or cynical politicians who seek to pervert, reverse, or nullify the Supreme Court's McDonald decision through Byzantine labyrinths of restrictions and regulations that render the Second Amendment inaccessible, unaffordable, or otherwise impossible to experience in a practical, reasonable way.

What good is a right without the gun? What good is the right if you can't buy one? Or keep one in your home? Or protect your family with one?

Here's a piece of paper — protect yourself. That's no right at all!

Victory is when law abiding men and women can get up, go out, and buy and own a firearm. This is a monumental day. But NRA will not rest until every law-abiding American citizen is able to exercise the individual right to buy and own a firearm for self defense or any other lawful purpose.

June 25, 2010, Chicago's Mayor, Richard Daley, stated that the Chicago City Council would be considering new gun laws should the Supreme Court rule against them.

This decision comes on the heels of one of the most violent weekends in Chicago where CBS reports:

For the second night in a row, gun violence injured more than a dozen people in just a few hours across the city, bringing the total number of people shot since midnight Saturday to 26.

At least thirteen people were shot -- one fatally -- in a little more than five hours between 10:45 p.m. p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday, with most shootings taking place on the Northwest and Southwest sides, according to police News Affairs reports.

The most recent wave of gun violence comes on the heels of a six-hour stretch from midnight to 6 a.m. Saturday, which also saw 13 people shot, two fatally, police said.

According to the ruling, on page #8, the Supreme Court took the crime statistics in Chicago under considerations and states:

Chicago enacted its handgun ban to protect its residents“from the loss of property and injury or death from fire-arms.” See Chicago, Ill., Journal of Proceedings of theCity Council, p. 10049 (Mar. 19, 1982). The Chicago petitioners and their amici, however, argue that the handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. Chicago PoliceDepartment statistics, we are told, reveal that the City’s handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban was enacted and that Chicago residents now face one of the highest murder rates in the country and rates of other violent crimes that exceed the average in comparable cities.

Emphasis mine.

Citizens had no way to fight back when the only guns on the street belonged to criminals and residents had no means to defend themselves. When a legal ban of handguns results in the handgun murder rate increasing, rather than decreasing, it does seem reasonable to assume the original premise behind the ban was faulty. Yet that unconstitutional law existed for 28 years.

Meet Otis McDonald, one of the individuals behind the lawsuit against Chicago's handgun ban.

According to the reporter that visited McDonald:

On the walls of his south side home are pictures of democrats and only democrats - including the Clintons, Barack Obama and Chicago's Mayor from 1984-1987 Harold Washington.

Saying simply " I don’t look at politics, like I don’t look at colors"

McDonald is a 76 year-old African American, Democrat, who believes he has the right to defend himself, his family and his home.

The supreme Court just gave him back his right.

[Update] Technically, the AP notes:

Monday's decision did not explicitly strike down the Chicago area laws. Instead, it ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. But it left little doubt that the statutes eventually would fall.

McDonald responds to the Supreme Court decision in his favor:

Otis McDonald says all he wanted to do was protect himself.

But first he had to fight the city of Chicago all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where today he gave a victory speech after the high court ruled against the city's handgun ban.

"I am so happy. I am so happy," McDonald, 76, exclaimed as he left the Supreme Court building this morning.

As he spoke, people approached him, shook his hand and congratulated him.

Nattily dressed in a dark suit, light blue shirt and lilac handkerchief in his breast pocket, McDonald seemed oblivious to the sweltering, ninety-something temperatures gripping the city. It was his second trip ever to the Supreme Court, having come beforehand for oral arguments.

McDonald said his victory gives law-abiding people the chance to defend themselves "against drug dealers and gangbangers across the United States." He said he hoped people would be safer because of the decision and that he worried about others more than himself.

The South Sider also said he didn't feel he would be threatened by criminals because of the case. "I believe they now will think twice," he said.

Asked by a reporter what type of handgun he would buy, he did not miss a beat. "I don't have no preference right now. I can use all of them," he said.

In a one-page statement read to a barrage of reporters, McDonald opened by thanking Jesus Christ, then his attorneys, then his fellow plaintiffs and finally "all the wonderful people all across America who have been supportive of the Second Amendment and our right to defend ourselves."

He also thanked the justices. "Last but not least, I'm very grateful to the justices of this high court for having the courage to right a wrong, which has impacted many lives long ago and that will protect lives for many years to come."