Did the Heller case clear up the meaning of the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment? D.C v. Heller dealt with an individuals right to possess a firearm for private use, but the case did not address the city, local and state laws restricting ownership or purchase. Next up … McDonald v. Chicago.
If my understanding is correct, the case will deal with incorporation of the 2nd Amendment. Incorporation is legal-speak for applying an amendment to the states – in other words state (and local) laws could not supersede the Constitution. (I’m hoping the Sound Off Sister will review and comment on this post…)
Chicago has very strict gun laws. As a matter of fact, residents have been denied their right to purchase a handgun since 1982. So the federal government says you have the right to bear arms, but the city of Chicago – since in their mind the 2nd Amendment has not been incorporated – assume they have the power to restrict the purchase, ownership and carry rights of their residents and guests visiting the city.
Another way to look at it is the state does not think the United States Constitution applies – in some cases – unless it is politically expedient for them.
Side note: I find it funny that many liberals can find language in the Constitution not only permitting, but encouraging federal cash for local schools, firetrucks, city parks, brick sidewalks and street signs – but then claim the 2nd Amendment does not apply in their city.
Many amendments have been incorporated against the states, but the Supreme Court has not answered the incorporation question for the 2nd Amendment. Currently, the Circuit Court of Appeals are split on the subject with the Ninth incorporating (surprise there) and the Second and Seventh not incorporating. The SCOTUS decision – with arguments scheduled for next year – will fix the split decisions.
If the 2nd is held to be not incorporated, you’ll see quite a bit of “feel good” legislation that will limit your rights to protect yourself and your family. Held incorporated, many states and cities – including Washington D.C. – will need to revisit their current restrictions on purchase and ownership.
For many states, the incorporation of the 2nd Amendment is moot since their individual constitutions already cover the topic. As an example, Connecticut’s Constitution (Article 1, Sec. 15) reads …
Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.
That pretty much clarifies the issue of incorporation for Connecticut unless someone repeals Article 1, Sec. 15. The Illinois Constitution seems a bit more vague in its first clause. Article 1, Sec. 22 reads …
Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
I read that section as follows … Our state laws (police powers) can be written to restrict your ownership of firearms… but the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Hence, Illinois is a good battleground to discuss and rule on incorporation of the 2nd Amendment to the states.
Even though Heller overturned D.C. law banning the possession of a firearm for personal use, the city fought long and hard to ensure it was so damn expensive to pass the rules and jump through the hoops, many residents can not afford the costs. In early September, Christian Davenport – a Washington Post staff writer – wrote about his experiences and the fact it cost more than $800 to go through the process including the inexpensive used revolver he purchased for $275.
This tactic – letting residents know they have the right, but they must pay outrageous fees for that right – is completely dishonest and if I was on the SCOTUS, I’d be slapping heads.
McDonald v. Chicago (08-1521) is scheduled for arguments in early 2010.