Supreme Court likely to strengthen individual rights to gun possession laws

March 3, 2010

(HMG) – The Supreme Court looks likely to strengthen gun possession laws and give federal judges power to strike down state and local weapons laws for infringing on Second Amendment rights.  The court’s 5 to 4 2008 decision along its conservative-liberal split in District of Columbia v. Heller, established for the first time that the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” referred to an individual right, not one related to military service.  At oral arguments Tuesday, the court considered whether its 2008 decision voiding the District of Columbia handgun ban should be extended to the rest of the country, and ensure that state and local gun-control laws do not interfere with it.  The case left open the question of whether the Second Amendment should be applied to states and localities like most of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights.
The McDonald v. Chicago, case is the logical follow up to consider whether, the Second Amendment right to bear arms is a fundamental right like freedom of speech. The case involves 76-year-old Chicago resident Otis McDonald, who claimed the city’s 1982 ban on handguns left him prey to street gangs. While the court’s conservative majority appears almost certain to strike down Chicago’s ordinance, and thus rule that residents have a right to a handgun at home, the justices might decide nothing further. Instead, in oral arguments Tuesday, they indicated they need not spell out this year the true scope of the Second Amendment and its “right to keep and bear arms.”  While only Chicago, and its Oak Park suburb, has a total ban on handguns, many cities and states regulate who can have a gun and where they can take it, all of which might be open to challenge once the court rules.  A decision in the case is expected this summer.



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