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McDonald v. City of Chicago

Supreme Court of the United States

March 2, 2010, Argued; June 28, 2010, Decided

No. 08-1521


 [*748]  [**3026]  Justice Alito announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II-A, II-B, II-D, and III, in which The Chief Justice, Justice  [*749]  Scalia, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Thomas join, and an opinion with respect to Parts II-C, IV, and V, in which The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and Justice Kennedy join.

Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008), we held that the Second Amendment protects the  [*750]  right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense, and we struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. The city of Chicago (Chicago or 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  [****14] 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.

Otis McDonald, Adam Orlov, Colleen Lawson, and David Lawson (Chicago petitioners) are Chicago residents who would like to keep handguns in their homes for self-defense [***904]  but are prohibited from doing so by Chicago's firearms laws. A City ordinance provides that “[n]o person shall . . . possess . . . any firearm unless such person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for such firearm.” Chicago, Ill., Municipal Code § 8-20-040(a) (2009). The Code then prohibits registration of most handguns, thus effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens who reside in the City. § 8-20-050(c). Like Chicago, Oak Park makes it “unlawful for any person to possess . . . any firearm,” a term that includes “pistols, revolvers, guns and small arms . . . commonly known as handguns.” Oak Park, Ill., Village Code §§ 27-2-1 (2007), 27-1-1 (2009).

Chicago enacted its handgun ban to protect its residents “from the loss of property and injury or death from firearms.” [*751]  See Chicago, Ill., Journal of Proceedings of the  [****15] City Council, p. 10049 (Mar. 19, 1982). The Chicago petitioners and their amici, however, argue that the handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. Chicago Police Department statistics, we are told, reveal that the City's handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban was enacted1 and that Chicago residents now face one of the highest murder rates in the country and rates of other violent crimes that exceed the average in comparable cities.2

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561 U.S. 742 *; 130 S. Ct. 3020 **; 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 ***; 2010 U.S. LEXIS 5523 ****; 78 U.S.L.W. 4844; 22 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 619

OTIS McDONALD, et al., Petitioners v. CITY OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, et al.


NRA of Am., Inc. v. City of Chicago, 567 F.3d 856, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 11721 (7th Cir. Ill., 2009)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.


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Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Rights, Right to Bear Arms, General Overview, State Application, Privileges & Immunities, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Substantive Due Process, Scope, Relations Among Governments, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights