by Max Brantley
The Roberts-Alito U.S. Supreme Court continues to legislate from the bench. Today, it reversed and remanded a lower court decision upholding Chicago's ban on handguns. The court said that the 14th amendment, through the due process clause, extended the 2nd Amendment gun rights from the federal level to the states.
Here's the opinion. The decision was 5-4. No need to tell you the five — Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy. They agree that the 2nd Amendment applies to the states and local governments, but Thomas has a small disagreement on how they got there.
Questions certainly linger. How far do gun rights go at the state level? May states prohibit concealed weapons? May they prohibit open carry? May they place limits on types of weapons? The court said, as it did in the ruling overturning the D.C. handgun law, that regulatory powers remain, including, for example, limits on gun sales to the mentally ill. But that's merely what they say today in reversing years of precedent. Said the court:
Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.
The gun nuts, of course, will press on for ever-diminishing regulation. The logical extension of the concept of an all-powerful 2nd is no limit at all. Insane people should be allowed to carry satchel nukes.You may not require gun lobbies to disclose their spending on political issues. What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand, after all? Who knows, it might become impermissible some day to criticize gun nuts. When constitutional rights conflict, one must fall, mustn't it?
FOR THE RECORD: The Arkansas Constitution's declaration on guns:
The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms, for their common defense.
Mike Ross (and everybody else in Arkansas public life) exults (though I don't think Arkanasas law restricts gun rights in any way remotely challengeable, at least until the loonies are in charge of the armory):
WASHINGTON — U.S. Congressman Mike Ross, D-Prescott, hailed today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago as a victory for the Second Amendment and a “common sense ruling that reaffirms a basic constitutional right afforded to us by our Founding Fathers.”
The U.S. Supreme Court today essentially struck down the city of Chicago’s 28-year-old strict ban on handgun ownership, arguing the protections afforded by the Second Amendment extend beyond the federal government to states and cities.
Last year, Ross led the efforts in filing an historic pro-Second Amendment amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief before the Supreme Court in McDonald v. City of Chicago. Ross helped gather the signatures of 251 Members of Congress and 58 Senators in support of the pro-Second Amendment amicus brief, which was then filed with the U.S. Supreme Court for this decision. The brief had the most signers of a congressional amicus brief in the history of the Supreme Court — breaking the record set in 2008 in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, which Ross also led. The Court’s decision in Heller struck down the District of Columbia’s long-standing handgun ban and argued the Second Amendment applied only to the federal government because the District is a federal enclave. Today’s decision in McDonald now extends Second Amendment protection to individuals in all fifty states.
Statement by U.S. Representative Mike Ross, D-Prescott:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. Chicago is a common sense decision that reaffirms a basic constitutional right afforded to us by our Founding Fathers. As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court has now ruled the Second Amendment is a fundamental, individual right applicable to all the states — not just the federal government — and I commend its decision.
“I firmly believe that banning guns will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but it will keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens trying to defend themselves against criminals. That is why I led the efforts in the House last year to gather congressional support for an historic amicus brief in favor of the Second Amendment, which we filed with the Supreme Court during its consideration of this historic case.
“The McDonald v. Chicago decision upholds an important part of our way of life and our heritage. It means that government at all levels — federal, state and local — cannot significantly limit law-abiding citizens’ rights to use guns for lawful purposes. This decision is a victory for all Americans who still believe in the Bill of the Rights and the Constitution.
“As an avid hunter and outdoorsman and pro-gun Democrat, I will continue to work to protect our Second Amendment rights in Congress and I will continue to oppose and fight any efforts in Washington to restrict the ‘right of the people to keep and bear Arms.’
Statement from Blanche Lincoln:
Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) today made the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the case of McDonald v. Chicago.
“Today’s ruling is a significant victory for those of us who strongly believe that the Second Amendment should protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to own and purchase firearms,” Lincoln said. “The McDonald decision says that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies equally to the federal government and the states, which means that state and local governments will now have to demonstrate that legislation restricting the use or possession of a firearm is consistent with the Second Amendment. Further, after today’s ruling, the Second Amendment provides Americans with a constitutional right to possess a firearm. This is a position that I share. I joined with a number of my congressional colleagues last year in signing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Second Amendment as a fundamental individual right applicable to the states.
“As a seventh-generation Arkansan, I know gun ownership is an important part of our state’s heritage. I have always supported the rights of law-abiding citizens to own, purchase, and carry firearms, and I will continue to defend the Second Amendment rights of Arkansans.”