Chicago Gun Ordinance Challenged in U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a strict local and state gun control law violates the Second Amendment when it reviews a lower court’s decision to uphold Chicago’s handgun ban. The Chicago case was filed following the Supreme Court’s June 2008 decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down a District of Columbia handgun ban.

Chicago’s handgun ban was similar to the one that was then overturned in D.C. Both municipalities made it illegal to carry unregistered handguns, but also did not allow residents to legally register their handguns. As a result of these conditions, essentially any handgun becomes illegal.

The current case comes before the Supreme Court after the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the Chicago handgun ban. The Court also upheld a similar handgun ban in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb.

In the 7th Circuit Court’s decision, Judge Frank Easterbrook stated

the Constitution establishes a federal republic where local differences are to be cherished as elements of liberty rather than extirpated in order to produce a single, nationally applicable rule. . . Federalism is an older and more deeply rooted tradition than is a right to carry any particular kind of weapon.

Essentially Easterbrook was favoring state rights, or federalism, over the Second Amendment right to bear arms and deferred to the local handgun laws. A similar conclusion was reached by the new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a decision made while she was an appeals court judge in New York. Like the Chicago case, Sotomayor’s New York ruling has also been challenged, but the Supreme Court has not taken steps to review it. If the Court were to review the New York case, or any decision that Sotomayor contributed to, then she would need to sit out of the Supreme Court’s review.

The Chicago case, McDonald v. Chicago, No. 08-1521, will be argued next year.

Kreisman Law Offices is a Chicago personal injury law firm that has been serving the Cook County area for over 30 years, including the cities and towns of Downers Grove, Wilmette, Schaumburg, and Burbank.