Thursday, October 1, 2009

The 2nd Amendment and the States

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear challenges to handgun laws in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. The Supreme Court last year ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the 2nd Amendment provides for handgun ownership in relation to the “federal government and federal enclaves such as Washington. “ In hearing these challenges to gun laws in Illinois, the Supreme Court will rule on state and local laws and whether these laws are constitutional in regards to the 2nd Amendment.

According to Alan Gura, the lawyer who filed the challenges, the laws in question is “identical” to the law that was challenged in Heller. “Gura hopes for a ‘definitive ruling’ on Chicago's restrictions and said he thinks that at a minimum the court would strike the same kind of handgun ban it found objectionable in Washington. “

Gun-control advocates show little concern for whether the laws in question are found unconstitutional. Even though many expect the Court to find that the Second Amendment applies to states and municipalities, gun-control advocates remain confident that, as in Heller, the application of the 2nd Amendment as applied to states will be narrowed to limit guns in the home for self-defense purposes.

The decision in Heller was split 5-4 last year. For the minority, the more liberal judges argued that the 2nd Amendment only guaranteed the right to bear arms to maintain groups such as militias. Still, many expect the five Justices from the majority to prevail once again, which may lead to challenges to state gun laws. Such challenges are expected to include challenges to such things as: gun registration; storage requirements; where guns may be carried; and, how (i.e. concealed or not) weapons may be carried.

Once again, it will be interesting to view how the Justices interpret and apply the 2nd Amendment in this case. Perhaps one of the most divisive and debated Amendments, the Supreme Court finally has a chance to make “definitive ruling” on the matter. However, even if such a ruling is handed down, it appears that arguments as to related issues will only get started.

For the full article from the Washington Post, click here.

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