I last discussed the 2008 Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) decision District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Court held that banning handguns or making citizens keep them unusable is unconstitutional. Today we are going to look at the 2010 SCOTUS decision McDonald v. City of Chicago, III., 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010). Same issue, with a twist.
This case also dealt with a handgun ban. The City of Chicago had an ordinance that stated: “[n]o person shall … possess … any firearm unless such person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for such firearm.” It then went on to prohibit registration of most handguns, thus effectively banning handgun possession. The Village of Oak Park also had a law that made it “unlawful for any person to possess … any firearm,” and then made the term “firearm” include “pistols, revolvers, guns and small arms … commonly known as handguns.” After the Heller decision in 2008, several residents of both locations sued to enforce their Second Amendment rights.
Our laws are built on the idea of precedent of stare decises. Stare decises is Latin for “to stand by things decided.” It means, generally, that courts will adhere to the previous ruling to make a new ruling. Chicago and Oak Lawn argue that their laws are constitutional because the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to the States. SCOTUS had previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States. Precedent said that the Second Amendment right is and should be applied fully to the States.
The full version of this column is now only available in Doug Giles’ book, “Sandy Hook Massacre: When Seconds Count, The Police Are Minutes Away”.