WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, and decide whether the right to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment protects Americans from overreaching state and local governments.
At issue is a 27-year-old Chicago law banning handguns, requiring the annual taxation of firearms, and otherwise interfering with the right of law-abiding individuals to keep guns at home for self-defense. The case was brought on behalf of four Chicago residents, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Illinois State Rifle Association.
Last year, in the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. However, as that case concerned the actions of the District of Columbia government, a federal entity, the high court was not called upon to decide whether the right bound states and local governments. Over the years, almost the entire Bill of Rights has been held to apply to state and local governments by operation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
“The freedoms we enjoy as Americans are secured to us against violation by all levels of government,” noted Alan Gura, of Gura & Possessky, PLLC, lead counsel for the McDonald plaintiffs. “State and local politicians should be on notice: the Second Amendment is a normal part of the Bill of Rights, and it is coming to your town.”
Otis McDonald, a Chicago resident since 1952 who led the fight to integrate his union local in the 1960s and is a plaintiff in the case, welcomed the news.
“I am grateful the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case,” McDonald said. “I now pray that the Court secures me and all other law-abiding citizens the right to defend ourselves and our families.”
SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said the case is of paramount importance to American citizens, to see that their constitutional rights are respected not only by the Congress, but by state and local governments.
“SAF was delighted to bring this case in cooperation with the Illinois State Rifle Association and the four local plaintiffs because a gun ban is no less onerous to civil rights in Chicago than it was in the District of Columbia,” Gottlieb observed. “Such a law cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.”
Chicago attorney David Sigale commented, “The City of Chicago cannot take from millions of Americans the fundamental freedom of self-defense in one’s own home. We are confident the Court will stand on the side of the law-abiding citizens and the Bill of Rights.”
“We’re pleased to hear that the Supreme Court has decided to take a look at Chicago’s gun laws,” added ISRA President Don Moran. “In this time of economic uncertainty and increasing lawlessness, the good people of Chicago ought not have to choose between violating Chicago’s gun ban, and protecting themselves and their loved ones.”
The Chicago gun ban challenge will likely be among the most closely watched constitutional law cases in decades. At stake is not just the question of whether the Second Amendment secures the right to arms against state and local governments, but also the extent to which the Supreme Court preserves individual liberty against encroachment by state and local governments.
Oral argument will possibly be scheduled early this coming winter, with a decision expected by June 2010. Gura will argue the case on behalf of the McDonald plaintiffs.