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Law Mon Jun 28 2010
Based on case law that found that the Bill of Rights applies to the states as well as the federal government, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down the City of Chicago's handgun ban. Despite conservative demagoguing, the City wasn't "ignoring" or "blocking" a Constitutional right, but rather operating on the basis of an interpretation that federal courts have upheld for generations. So while this reading of the applicability of the Bill of Rights (and other amendments) to the States may be better reasoned, it isn't plainly obvious, and pretending it is reveals the ignorance of the demagogues who do so.
Specifically the ruling would vacate a few elements of the city's municipal code, including Section 8-20-50, which classifies handguns as "unregisterable" firearms, thus making them illegal to own in the city limits.
As the Supreme Court's full decision states, the lower courts were following the direction of their own decades (and in some cases a century or more) of case law that directed them to find on behalf of the city, despite the recent Heller decision which vacated a Washington, D.C. handgun ban. Heller, along with some other recent Supreme Court decisions, created the precedents that provided the framework for this decision today.
Please, before the inevitable argument breaks out about how the lack of handguns actually increases crime, or whatever ridiculous facile reasoning is used to angry up the blood of gun rights people, save it. While violent crime has not necessarily been affected by the handgun ban, nor can you find any causal link between the ban and violent crime. Comparing it to other cities that have no ban and less crime also assumes that the two categories--crime and handgun ownership--have a 1:1 relationship, and they obviously do not. Saying if it were easier for private citizens to kill other private citizens, then somehow crime would decrease is as ridiculous as saying writing a law that makes handguns illegal will stop people from owning handguns. Ending this ban will have no affect on violent crime in the city except that we'll probably have a few stories a year about someone using their legal handgun to kill a spouse, and a few about a parent protecting their home with their legal handgun. Street gangs will still be killing each other, drugs will flood our streets, the desperate will break into homes, people will get caught in the crossfire, your childlike obsession with your toy notwithstanding.
The more interesting question is whether the Supreme Court decided rightly, and whether they will remain consistent. They've showed disappointing inconsistency in the wake of their supposedly pro-free speech Citizens United decision.
Mick Dumke of the Reader looks at what the city might do in response to the Supreme Court's decision.