Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Supreme Court Smacks Down Chicago Gun Ban

Court Blasts City for Not Protecting Residents of
High Crime Areas

Yesterday, in McDonald v. Chicago, No. 08-1521, the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote found Chicago's 28-year-old ban on handgun ownership unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the Constitution gives individuals equal or greater power than states on the issue of possession of certain firearms for self-protection.

"It cannot be doubted that the right to bear arms was regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as states legislated in an evenhanded manner," wrote Justice Samuel Alito.

Justice Alito further noted that "the plight of Chicagoans living in high-crime areas" was highlighted by legislators, who had compared the number of people murdered in Chicago to the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, while also noting the majority of victims were minorities.

The ruling went on to state that if the petitioners are correct in asserting that law-abiding citizens feel their safety would be enhanced by having a handgun in their homes, then "the Second Amendment right protects the rights of minorities and other residents of high-crime areas whose needs are not being met by elected public officials."

Chicago officials were incensed by the Supreme Court's portrayal of the city's crime prevention efforts and the seemingly over the top condemnation of the Chicago Police Department and elected public officials.

Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab, told the Chicago Tribune she understood the argument set forth in the opinion — that people in high-crime areas might believe they'd be safer with a gun in their home. But research shows that gun availability leads to more bloodshed, not less, she said.

"I understand the concern about public safety, but that is not going to get you a safer public," Ander said. "That is a solution that doesn't fit the problem. It's putting gasoline on a fire. What we need is more water."

Ander told the Tribune, that rather than put more guns on the street, policies and strategies that "reduce the availability of guns (rather than) increase the availability of guns in these high-crime areas" should be considered.

To read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-chicago-crime-20100628,0,4477173.story

To read the Court's opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1521.pdf

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