High Court Hears Challenge to Chicago Handgun Law

By Kamika Dunlap on March 02, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Chicago's long-standing handgun ban is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court will decide whether the Chicago handgun ban should be invalidated under the Second Amendment in the McDonald v. Chicago case.

The showdown could be a repeat of when the US Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

In the D.C. case, the Supreme Court recognized, for the first time, the Second Amendment right to bear arms as applying to individuals, rather than to militia groups (as some argue the text of the Second Amendment suggests).

Because D.C. is not part of a state, however, that ruling was confined to the protection of individual's Second Amendment rights from encroachment by federal law. It was left undecided whether similar legal logic would apply to the power of states and local governments to regulate guns.

In the Chicago case, the justices will look at whether the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments, or whether it remains one of the few areas in the Bill of Rights that binds only the national government.

A decision by the Supreme Court on whether to strike down the Chicago handgun ban may establish basic ground rules for future gun control efforts in states and cities across the U.S.

Gun-control groups argue that lifting the gun ban will increase gun violence in the Chicago area.

But gun-rights supporters say they have the "right to bear arms" and protect themselves. They also point out that the illegal gun trade has flourished despite the ban.

As previously discussed, state gun laws have sparked a renewed debate around the Second Amendment.

If Chicago law is overturned, it will probably lead to more litigation around gun regulation as was the case in Washington D.C. A law was passed requiring gun owners to go through a step-by-step process including five hours of safety training and undergo criminal background checks every six years.

Whatever the decision from this landmark case, many legal experts say Chicago is fighting an uphill battle over its gun laws.

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