As I mentioned briefly when it was announced, the Supreme Court ruled this past Monday in the case of McDonald v. Chicago that the protections offered by the 2nd Amendment are, in fact, incorporated against state and local action much like the 1st Amendment. Even though it’s being widely touted that this ruling has overturned Chicago’s patently ridiculous total ban on handguns, the fact is that the matter has been remanded to the lower courts. The SCOTUS has basically told the lower courts that the citizens’ rights protected by the 2nd Amendment are… um… rights that state and city governments may not interfere with. Since the Chicago ban is virtually identical to the DC gun ban struck down in 2008, most of us who oppose such bans believe the lower courts will strike Chicago’s ban down as well. Chicago might even follow the lead of some localities after the Heller decision and remove the ban on their own.
However, considering Chicago Mayor Richard Daly’s attitude on the matter, it is also most likely that he and his cronies will attempt to have enacted a series of ludicrously difficult regulations designed to make it such a pain in the ass to actually register a handgun that (they hope) most people won’t bother. Or expensive enough that most won’t be able to afford it. This will require continued vigilance. Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox of the NRA wrote a statement regarding this latest decision and had some great points:
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.
We are practical guys. We 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.
There is absolutely no rational justification that demands the protections of the 1st, 4th, and 5th amendments be held as effective against state and local action yet denies the protections of the 2nd. A right is only a right when it is recognized as action that citizens may perform and governments may not stop. And a right is not something someone needs to buy into, either. My ability to speak my mind on the street corner should not be dependent on whether I can pay someone a fee. My right to be free of illegal search should not depend on whether I can afford to pay a certain sum to the police to keep them from entering my home without cause. Laws governing the ownership of firearms cannot present a similar obstacle. DC has gone that route after the Heller decision and has had to change their laws a few times when they were challenged. They are being challenged again and, given the McDonald decision, it’s not looking good for them. Nor should it.
This decision was a fine moment in American history and it certainly something to be celebrated. But it’s something to be watched, as well, to make certain the government actions on the matter comply with the protections the Constitution confers.