When the Supreme Court struck down the D.C. gun ban with the Heller decision in June 2008, attorneys and staffers in political offices throughout the Windy City read through the verdict until they found a loophole on which Mayor Richard Daley could hang his gun ban. In the end they discovered the Heller decision only dealt with federal law because D.C. was federal district: this meant it would not, indeed it could not, be applied to cities and states around the country.
Thus Chicago’s political thugs, possessing Obama-like arrogance, quickly appeared before news cameras to assure citizens that there would be no change in the city’s gun policy. In other words, criminals would continue to have guns and law-abiding citizens would continue to add locks to their doors, place bars on their windows, and park their cars under streetlights night.
Mayor Daley was on top of the world, grinning from ear to ear like the Grinch who derived pleasure from ruining special days.
Then came June 28, 2010, and the verdict in McDonald vs. Chicago hit like a hammer as Justice Samuel Alito expressed the majority opinion: “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 good news is that any provision of the Bill of Rights which is fully applicable to the States is, by the very language of the 10th Amendment, fully applicable to the people. Thus when the Washington Post carried the news about the Supreme Court’s verdict their story read: “The Supreme Court held Monday that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live.”
Did you hear that Mayor Daley? – “Anywhere they live.”
Besides simply conveying the news that the 2nd Amendment applies to every American in all of America, the Court’s majority opinion carried a summary of the Heller case, from 2008, which showed that the Justices had “explored the right’s origins in English law and noted the esteem with which the right was regarded during the colonial era and at the time of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.” In so doing they found “powerful evidence that the right was regarded as fundamental.”
In addition to these things, the summary attached to the majority opinion in McDonald vs. Chicago describes “self-defense [as] a basic right,” and says 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.’”
Did you get that? The Justices not only recognize a right to self-defense but also acknowledge that a “handgun” is “the most preferred firearm” for carrying out that right. (Is somebody in Mayor Daley’s office writing this down for him? He really needs to read this.)
Now, for any of you who don’t know the history behind McDonald vs Chicago the long and short of it is: On the heels of the Heller victory, Chicagoan Otis McDonald, along with NRA, filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago in an effort to overturn the gun ban there. When the 7th Court of Appeals refused to overturn the ban based on the Heller decision alone, McDonald appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard that case and gave the opinion I’ve outlined above.
This means the case will now go back to the 7th Court of Appeals to be retried in light of the broader application of the 2nd Amendment. It also means the prognosis for Chicago’s gun ban is not good. In fact, it’s going to be on life support until the 7th Court of Appeals hears the case again, at which time the plug should be pulled on ban’s deteriorating corpse so that law-abiding Chicagoans can keep and bear arms like the rest of us.
Between now and then, let’s take a little joy in knowing the Supreme Court has served Mayor Daley some humble pie.