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Law School Case Brief

Moore v. Madigan - 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012)


A blanket prohibition on carrying gun in public prevents a person from defending himself anywhere except inside his home; and so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof it would. In contrast, when a state bans guns merely in particular places, such as public schools, a person can preserve an undiminished right of self-defense by not entering those places; since that is a lesser burden, the state does not need to prove so strong a need. Similarly, the state can prevail with less evidence when, as in Skoien, guns are forbidden to a class of persons who present a higher than average risk of misusing a gun. 


An Illinois law forbade a person, with exceptions mainly for police and other security personnel, hunters, and members of target shooting clubs, to carry a gun ready to use. Plaintiffs Michael Moore and several other gun owners filed lawsuits in two federal district courts contending that the Illinois law violated the Second Amendment. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The district courts ruled that the Second Amendment did not create a right of self-defense outside the home, and so dismissed the two suits for failure to state a claim. Plaintiffs appealed.


Did the Illinois law violate the Second Amendment?




The court reversed the district courts' decisions and remanded to the respective district courts for the entry of declarations of unconstitutionality and permanent injunctions. The court held that the right to bear arms implied a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home. To confine the right to be armed to the home was to divorce the Second Amendment from the right of self-defense. Illinois had to provide more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban was justified by an increase in public safety. It failed to meet that burden. The Supreme Court of the United States' interpretation of the Second Amendment compelled declarations of unconstitutionality.

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