It’s a great day to be a supporter of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the US. It’s troubling that four Supreme Court justices opposed the correct decision, however. From Big Journalism, author AWR Hawkins
In 2008, as the Supreme Court was preparing to hear D.C. vs. Heller, the case against D.C. handgun ban, liberal news outlets were going out their way to explain why the ban should be kept in place. Anti-gun columnists likeMarian Wright Edelman, writing for the Huffington Post, argued that the ban ought to be upheld as a means of “protecting the health and safety of America’s children.” The Court did not agree with Edelman.
Earlier this year, as the Supreme Court was considering McDonald vs. Chicago, the case against Chicago’s handgun ban, gun-grabbing Mayor Richard Daley scoffed at the pending decision. In May 2010 he told the Chicago Tribunethat maybe one of the justices would “have an incident and…change their mind” on guns: that they might “see the light of day.” But I suppose none of the justices had an “incident,” because the Court did not agree with Daley.
When the Supreme Court ruled against the D.C. gun ban in the Heller decision, gun owners and lovers of liberty were elated. But amid all the joy, it began to dawn on people that because D.C. was a federal district instead of a city in state, the ruling was not likely to reverse bans in cities there were in states. This meant Chicagoans were likely to continue living unarmed, because Mayor Daley was consumed with the thought of preventing law-abiding citizens from keeping arms on their persons or in their homes.
Thus was born McDonald vs. Chicago: a case resulting from a lawsuit by Otis McDonald, a retiree in his late 70s who got tired of being a prisoner in his own home. The National Rifle Association (NRA) quickly backed McDonald’s case, understanding that a favorable verdict would mean that the Heller ruling, which had impacted federal laws, would be applied to local law in cities and states as well.
This morning, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in McDonald vs. Chicago, giving the Heller decision the broader application that McDonald, the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and supporters of the U.S. Constitution thought it deserved. The Heritage Foundation put it thus: “The Court today held that the ‘right of the people to keep and bear Arms’ cannot be infringed by the states.”
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the judgment of the Court:
The city of Chicago (City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws that are similar to the District of Columbia’s, but Chicago and Oak Park argue that their laws are constitutional because the Second Amendment has no application to the States. We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States. Applying the standard that is well established in our case law, we hold that the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States.
The “headnote” to the judgment, by itself, ought to be heartening to every lover of liberty in this nation. For it provides an overview of the Court’s position on the Second Amendment, and recounts the Heller decision in context. In so doing it shows that:
Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present, and [that] the Heller Court held that individual self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment.
Moreover, in Heller, the Court held that “‘the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute’ in the home,ibid., the Court found that this right applies to handguns because they are ‘the most preferred firearm in the nation to “keep” and use for protection of one’s home and family.’”
No wonder The Heritage Foundation says that McDonald vs. Chicago is “probably the most important Second Amendment case in Supreme Court history.”
My only concern is that the McDonald judgment, like the Heller judgment two years ago, was handed down on a 5-4 vote. This means only 5 out of 9 justices believe that the Second Amendment is constitutional.