Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will decide whether the right to own guns for self-defense, announced by the court last year when it struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns, also covers states and other cities with gun-control laws.
The landmark decision in Heller v. District of Columbia did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond the federal government and federal enclaves like the District.
The case the court accepted Wednesday concerns the city of Chicago, which bans most handguns.
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In the Heller case, the court held for the first time that individuals have a right to gun ownership. Until then, the court had only recognized that the constitutional “right to keep and bear arms” protected a state’s ability to maintain a militia.
Other court precedents have held that the Second Amendment restricts only federal law, as was the case with most of the Bill of Rights. Through the years, the court has applied most of the amendments, but not all, to the states, a process called “incorporation.” The Heller decision specifically left the question about the Second Amendment for another day.
Alan Gura, the Alexandria lawyer who successfully challenged the District’s law, sued the city of Chicago, which has a handgun ban virtually identical to Washington’s, plus other restrictions. Ruling in that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit said only the Supreme Court can decide whether the Second Amendment applies.
This article was posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:31 am