Legal Reference

Supremes rule against Chicago gun ban!

F*ck the Constitution! How we going to control our serfs if we let them have guns! That's how the gun grabbing tyrants in Chicago feel about the latest Supreme Court decision.

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Chicago gun ban on way out, but mayor vows fight

Posted 6/29/2010 6:52 AM ET

By Don Babwin, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO A Supreme Court ruling finding that Americans have the right to bear arms anywhere they live almost certainly means the end of Chicago's decades-old handgun ban, but it may not make handgun ownership there much easier if the city's powerful mayor has his way.

Shortly after the high court voted 5-4 Monday along familiar ideological lines -- with five conservative-moderate justices in favor of gun rights and four liberals opposed -- Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said officials were already at work rewriting the city ordinance to adhere to the court ruling while protecting Chicago residents from gun violence.

"We will never give in to those who use guns to harm others," Daley said in comments aimed at his constituents. "Your fight is my fight and we're in this together." [translation - we don't want our serfs to have guns cuz they could harm us government rulers and our cops who keep up in power]

And in other cities and states, officials said they were confident their gun control laws would withstand legal challenges. [And even if their laws are unconstitutional it will cost their serfs millions in legal fees to get the unconstitutional laws overturned]

"We do think it'll probably give us some bigger legal bills, but I suspect that we will be able to continue to do exactly what we've been doing -- have reasonable regulations as to who can buy and where you can carry," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent gun control advocate, said of Monday's ruling.

The decision didn't explicitly strike down nearly 30-year-old handgun bans in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park. Instead, it ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. But it left little doubt that the statutes eventually would fall.

In the majority decision, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the Second Amendment right "applies equally to the federal government and the states." [because of the 14th Amendment]

But the decision also signaled that some limitations on the Constitution's "right to keep and bear arms" could survive legal challenges. Alito noted that while fully binding on states and cities, the Second Amendment "limits (but by no means eliminates) their ability to devise solutions to social problems that suit local needs and values."

Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, each wrote a dissent. Stevens said that unlike a ruling two years ago overturning a Washington, D.C., handgun ban, Monday's decision "could prove far more destructive -- quite literally -- to our nation's communities and to our constitutional structure."

Gun rights supporters challenged the Chicago and Oak Park laws -- the last two remaining outright bans, according to The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence -- almost immediately after the high court struck down a ban on handguns and a trigger lock requirement for other guns in Washington, a federal city with a unique legal standing. That ruling applied only to federal laws.

Lower federal courts upheld the Illinois cities' bans, noting that judges on those benches were bound by Supreme Court precedent and that it would be up to the high court justices to ultimately rule on the true reach of the Second Amendment.

Monday's ruling was a victory for gun rights supporters, but they also said they expected state and local governments to draft laws to impede gun ownership.

Attorney David Sigale, who represented one of the plaintiffs associated with Monday's decision, said he has been advising prospective handgun owners to hold off buying them.

"In light of Mayor Daley's threat... that there could be a whole new mess of regulations on the books, which I'm sure will only go to further hinder and burden the Constitutional rights given today, I think it would be prudent to wait and see what those developments are before everyone rushes out and avails themselves of this new right," Sigale said.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said he expects the same from other municipalities as well, saying the NRA "will continue to work at every level to insure that defiant city councils and cynical politicians do not transform this constitutional victory into a practical defeat through Byzantine regulations and restrictions."

In Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley said the ruling would not pose a problem because the state controls, but doesn't ban, guns. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is pushing a bill that would make it illegal to buy more than one gun per month.

"The provision in the governor's bill relative to a one-gun-a-month limit is not analogous since it does not ban the ownership of firearms, but just regulates the amount," said Deval's spokesman, Kyle Sullivan.

Daley didn't specify what measures he intends to push, but he said he planned to move quickly to get them in front of the City Council, saying that it is possible a special session will be called to address the issue.

He said he's considering creating a registry of the names and addresses of everyone in the city who legally owns a handgun, which would be made available to police officers, firefighters and other "first responders" before they arrive at the scene of emergencies.

The mayor also said Chicago might follow the District of Columbia's lead in requiring prospective gun owners to take training courses that include several hours of classroom learning about gun safety and passing a 20-question test.

Daley has suggested that owners may be required to buy insurance for those guns.

___

Associated Press writers Deanna Bellandi in Chicago, Glen Johnson in Boston, Sara Kugler Frazier in New York and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.


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Supreme Court extends rights of gun owners

By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

June 29, 2010

Reporting from Washington

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that cities and states must abide by the 2nd Amendment, strengthening the rights of gun owners and opening courthouse doors nationwide for gun rights advocates to argue that restrictions on firearms are unconstitutional.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices said the right to have a handgun for self-defense is "fundamental from an American perspective [and] applies equally to the federal government and the states."

The high court overturned 19th century rulings that said the 2nd Amendment restricted only federal gun laws, not local or state measures. The decision will almost certainly void ordinances in Chicago and Oak Park, Ill., that forbid residents to have handguns at home. The justices ruled in favor of the Chicago residents who wish to have guns and sent the case back to Chicago for a lower court to issue a final ruling.

Legal experts on both sides of the gun-control debate predicted the ruling would trigger more lawsuits. They disagreed, however, about whether it would lead to gun laws being struck down, beyond a city's total ban on handguns.

"This case is only the beginning of the debate. Gun ownership rights like free-speech rights are not absolute, and state and local governments retain the authority to enact reasonable gun-control laws," said Rick Garnett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Typically, residents can have a rifle or shotgun in any state without a permit. The main exceptions are for people with a felony record or who are mentally ill, and the Supreme Court has already said those "reasonable regulations" can stand.

Seven states, including California, forbid assault weapons or semiautomatic weapons, the court noted. Those restrictions will face a legal challenge, gun rights advocates said.

The National Rifle Assn. also said it planned to focus on how some laws were enforced. For example, California authorizes residents to carry concealed weapons in public with permits. But NRA lawyers say that police in Los Angeles and San Francisco rarely issue permits, and they want to sue to challenge that practice.

"You will see lots of lawsuits, but the vast majority of laws are likely to be upheld," said UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, an expert on the 2nd Amendment. "The only thing we know for sure is that it's unconstitutional to prohibit possession of a handgun at home."

Though the high court split along ideological lines, the ruling won bipartisan praise in Washington, where Democrats have increasingly shied away from advocating gun control. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) joined Republicans in support of the outcome.

For their part, the justices are deeply split on both the meaning of the 2nd Amendment and wisdom of gun-control measures.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the opinion for the majority, said crime data from the Chicago Police Department "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."

In dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said firearms "cause well over 60,000 deaths and injuries in the United States each year. Gun regulation may save lives. Some experts have calculated, for example, that Chicago's handgun ban has saved several hundred lives, perhaps close to 1,000, since it was enacted in 1983."

Two years ago, in a case from Washington, D.C., the court declared for the first time that the 2nd Amendment protects the gun rights of individuals. But the district is a federal city and not a state, and the ruling did not make clear whether state laws or city ordinances were affected.

In Monday's McDonald vs. Chicago decision, Alito explained that in the 20th century, the Bill of Rights was extended to apply to states and cities. There is no reason to leave out the 2nd Amendment, he said. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas joined to form the majority.

Alito repeated the court's earlier assurance that "reasonable regulations" of firearms can stand: "Despite the doomsday predictions" of the city's lawyers, extending the 2nd Amendment "does not imperil every law regulating firearms."

The dissenters said they feared the ruling would have a severe and dangerous effect across the country. On his final day as a justice, John Paul Stevens said he continued to believe the 2nd Amendment was "adopted to protect the states from federal encroachment," not to undercut their gun laws. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined Breyer's even longer dissent.

The court did not explain why it stopped short of striking the Chicago ordinance. But in the last two years, a federal judge and the U.S. court of appeals said that high court precedents barred them from striking down the Chicago ordinance. Now that those precedents have been set aside, the high court may have thought the judges in Chicago deserved the chance to rule directly on the constitutionality of the city's handgun ban.

Outside the court, NRA head Wayne LaPierre said it was a "monumental day." He said the NRA "will not declare victory until any law-abiding citizen can go out, buy a firearm, own a firearm, protect themselves with it and use it for any other lawful purpose."

But Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told reporters the ruling was not a surprise and set a "very narrow" definition of protected gun rights.

Alan Gura, the attorney for lead plaintiff Otis McDonald in the case, said, "People very, very soon in Chicago will be able to buy and lawfully possess handguns."

david.savage@latimes.com

Katherine Skiba, Jennifer Martinez and Julia Love in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.


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Court took cheap shot at city's crime rate, Chicago officials contend

Ruling's references to high murder rate stun some city leaders

By Hal Dardick, Annie Sweeney and Cynthia Dizikes, Tribune reporters

9:40 p.m. CDT, June 28, 2010

Many supporters of Chicago's handgun ban were braced for defeat Monday, but some were surprised the U.S. Supreme Court ruling took such sharp aim at the city's crime-fighting efforts.

The high court's decision made references to the city's high murder rate and suggested that citizens who feel they aren't being protected by police should be allowed to protect themselves.

The decision also referred to news reports from April on two state legislators who called for the Illinois National Guard to be deployed in Chicago to address a rising crime problem, a move many saw as blatantly political.

Justices noted that "the plight of Chicagoans living in high-crime areas'' was highlighted by the legislators, who had compared the number of people murdered in Chicago to the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, while also noting the majority of victims were minorities.

The ruling went on to state that if the petitioners are correct in asserting that law-abiding citizens feel their safety would be enhanced by having a handgun in their homes, then "the Second Amendment right protects the rights of minorities and other residents of high-crime areas whose needs are not being met by elected public officials.''

Chicago officials led by Mayor Richard Daley on Monday challenged the implication that the police were not providing enough protection for residents and that more guns in the hands of citizens would create a safer city.

"To suggest that Chicago's elected officials haven't done enough to protect our city residents shows that many of our highest-level officials don't understand that gun violence pervades America and not just Chicago," Daley said. "Across the country, cities are struggling with how to address the issue. Common sense tells you we need fewer guns on the streets, not more guns."

Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab, backed the Police Department while noting that "it would be great if we had more resources and more could be done."

She said she understood the argument set forth in the opinion that people in high-crime areas might believe they'd be safer with a gun in their home. But research shows that gun availability leads to more bloodshed, not less, she said.

"I understand the concern about public safety, but that is not going to get you a safer public,'' Ander said. "That is a solution that doesn't fit the problem. It's putting gasoline on a fire. What we need is more water."

Ander said that rather than put more guns on the street, policies and strategies that "reduce the availability of guns (rather than) increase the availability of guns in these high-crime areas" should be considered. [Yea sure! The cops can't even keep drugs off the streets! The cops can't keep guns out of the hands of criminals either and the only people with guns are the cops and criminals. Honest law abiding citizens are the only people who don't have guns]

Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue agreed that more guns are not the answer. [Then maybe the cops should start patrolling unarmed. If civilians are safe with out guns then cops will be safe too!]

"We support the Second Amendment,'' Donahue said. But "our concern is always greater access to firearms by those that shouldn't have them. [That means cops only thing cops should have guns!] If there are going to be more handguns in households across the city, there will be greater access for those who shouldn't have them criminals."

Chicago attorney Steven Baron, who is a board member of the Legal Community Against Violence, said he found the passages in the ruling that referred to the National Guard to be odd and misleading.

"It is highly unusual for a justice to pick up something like this and rely on it as though it were an accurate statement of fact," said Baron, whose organization filed a brief in support of the city's position.

Supt. Jody Weis' office referred all calls on the gun ban to the mayor's press office.

Several police officers on Monday challenged the idea that the city has failed to protect residents.

They pointed out that crime rates are lower in the city than they were in the 1990s, and noted that most murders involving handguns take place on the street. At least half are gang-related, and the majority of both victims and offenders have criminal records.

"Half of our day is spent protecting criminals from other criminals,'' said one longtime officer.

hdardick@tribune.com

cdizikes@tribune.com

asweeney@tribune.com


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Q&A on the Chicago gun ban ruling

Has the Supreme Court made a definitive ruling on the right to keep and bear arms? Indeed it has.

9:40 p.m. CDT, June 28, 2010

Q: Did the justices once and for all answer whether Americans have an individual right to keep and bear arms?

A: There's no way to predict what a future court will do. But Monday's ruling was quite definitive that Americans have a basic right to own guns. "A majority of the Supreme Court believes that the federal constitutional right to keep and bear arms does not depend on service in an organized militia," said University of Chicago law professor Adam Samaha, who helped the city prepare for oral arguments before the court. "The Second Amendment begins by referring to a 'well-regulated militia,' but the court's majority thinks that 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms' stands on its own.

Q: Does the ruling in the McDonald case mean that everyone in Chicago can go out immediately and bring a handgun home?

A: No. The court did not overturn any Chicago gun ordinances but instead sent the case back to a lower court. It's unclear whether the city will keep fighting in court, but for the moment the handgun ban remains in effect. The city is pressing forward with proposed gun control measures that it believes will be acceptable to the courts. Alan Gura, the attorney who represented plaintiffs in the Chicago case, said, "People very, very soon in Chicago will be able to buy and lawfully possess handguns."

Q: Does the ruling go beyond handguns?

A: No. "The case before the Supreme Court involved only the ban on the ownership of handguns in the home for self-defense purposes," said city Corporation Counsel Mara Georges. She noted that it is still illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Illinois, to have a handgun in Chicago without a firearm owner's identification card, to have any gun in the city without it being registered with the Police Department, to transport a gun in a vehicle if it's "not broken down into a nonfunctioning state," and to possess semiautomatic or automatic assault weapons, laser-sight accessories, fragmenting bullets or silencers.

Q: Have all the issues regarding Chicago's current gun laws been settled?

A: No. Gura said two questions remain unanswered: whether the city can continue to require gun owners to pay an annual tax and re-register their guns yearly and the requirement that the registration process be completed before bringing a gun into the city. Those issues were part of the lawsuit in the Chicago case, but were not addressed by the Supreme Court.

Q: What is the key difference in the court's ruling Monday in McDonald v. Chicago and Heller v. the District of Columbia in 2008?

A: The Heller decision affirmed the right of citizens to keep a gun in their homes for self-defense. But that ruling applied only to areas under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Monday's ruling makes it clear that the right also applies to areas under state and local government regulation.

Q: The court again declined to set standards for judges to evaluate gun control laws. Is this likely to lead to more litigation?

A: In Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion, he emphasized that some local gun regulation is permissible for example, to keep guns out of the hands of felons. But there is no clear line on how much regulation would infringe on the basic right of gun ownership, so lawsuits are inevitable. Sahama noted that neither the McDonald nor Heller ruling clarifies whether a citizen has the right to have a gun outside the home.

Q: What kinds of lawsuits will we see?

A: Sahama predicted that a lawsuit will be filed soon against New York City because its licensing system "seems quite restrictive and includes significant discretion on the part of law enforcement officials." Gura said gun-rights advocates will look at attempts to ban certain types of weapons. "This is the beginning, not the end," he said.

Dahleen Glanton