U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Extends Second Amendment to the States, Casts Doubt on Chicago Handgun Ban

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Developing: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments, a ruling that casts doubt on Chicago’s gun regulations.

The New York Times calls the ruling “an enormous symbolic victory for supporters of gun rights” while the Washington Post says it may be “more symbolic than substantive.”

The majority opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. made clear that some gun regulations are permissible, but their scope is still to be determined, the stories say. Chicago’s handgun restrictions before the court are among the most restrictive in the country, and it’s unclear how other regulations will fare.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the decision (PDF) for a divided court, SCOTUSblog reports.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to bear arms in Washington, D.C., a federal enclave. The decision did not determine whether the amendment restricts state and local laws under the incorporation doctrine.

In today’s opinion, Alito and three other justices concluded the Second Amendment applied to the states through the due process clause, while Justice Clarence Thomas appeared to base incorporation on the privileges and immunities clause, SCOTUSblog says.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider the Chicago gun regulations on remand.

According to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the opinion reaffirmed that legislators may still enact commonsense gun laws. “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,” Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign, said in a press statement.

The name plaintiff in the Chicago case is Otis McDonald, an elderly man who keeps a shotgun at home to protect himself from gangs.

The case is McDonald v. City of Chicago.

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