June 28th, 2010
10:06 AM ET

Court rules for gun rights, strikes Chicago handgun ban

In another dramatic victory for firearm owners, the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional Chicago, Illinois' 28-year-old strict ban on handgun ownership, a potentially far-reaching case over the ability of state and local governments to enforce limits on weapons.

A 5-4 conservative majority of justices on Monday reiterated its two-year-old conclusion 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.

The court grounded that right in the due process section of the 14th Amendment. The justices, however, said local jurisdictions still retain the flexibility to preserve some "reasonable" gun-control measures currently in place nationwide.

In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer predicated far-reaching implications. "Incorporating the right," he wrote, "may change the law in many of the 50 states. Read in the majority's favor, the historical evidence" for the decision "is at most ambiguous."

He was supported by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

soundoff (630 Responses)
  1. JD

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." - end of discussion!

    June 28, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Lemasc

    It is so sad to see that the American people still believe in guns. After all the massacres, school killings, accidents with kids, they still want to own a gun. And they thank god for that?? Appalling!

    June 28, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      Pull your head out of the sand. This is the real world, and there are real evil people living here. Many of these massacres would have been stopped short by well-armed civilans able to respond. It's very simple...just look at ALL of the statistics that prove that when gun controls are eliminated, crime drops – dramatically. We need to put the fear of guns in the hearts of the bad guys. It's when they know they are surrounded by unarmed victims that they feel free to perpetrate their crimes.

      June 28, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • dani

      As a female college student, knowing about school shootings makes me wish I could carry on campus. The threat isn't a responsible gun owner, carrying their single handgun, but rather the crazy kid armed to the hilt. Pistol-free zones are, in general, the more dangerous places.

      I've been followed out of a club while in Detroit. I was the DD, and watching over my sister was my biggest priority. Had I been a little less lucky, who knows what may have happened.

      In the winter, darkness comes early, and nothing is scarier than having to walk alone at "night" across campus, when my watch claims it's only 6:30pm.

      Yes, I carry my pepperspray and my (< 3") knife. I take aikido (which is PURELY defensive btw). However, none of that will matter if a group of guys comes after me, or if VA tech happens in Detroit.

      I would love to see more training than the 8 hour class in MI for concealed carry. I would love if additional training could replace the need for certain pistol-free zones (specifically places that don't have armed security and/or police).

      I believe that ignorant people shouldn't be handed a ccw, much the same way those ignorant of traffic laws shouldn't be handed a license. People should know gun safety and know how to properly handle firearms before being allowed to own a gun, however, the simple right should *never* be taken away.

      June 29, 2010 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Simon

    I believe individuals have a right to own firearms, but it is absolutely nonsense to suggest that when a citizen buys a gun "to protect himself" he is doing it for any other reason than he is a coward and terrified of the possibility that he will be the victim of some fanciful random street crime. If you are the victim of random street crime, your chances of drawing a gun and returning fire to defend yourself are practically nil. Owning a gun is simply a very dangerous security blanket, ineffective against random violence. People who own guns and carry them are filled with a false machismo who I have seen cause much more violence than they prevent. So you have the right to own and carry one, but no intelligent person does.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      You're misinformed. Apparently you are unaware of the tens of thousands of crimes stopped or prevented by citizens who have defended themselves with handguns...whether at home or in the streets. Of course, it's absolutely understandable, considering the liberal press refuses to report any of these stories.

      June 28, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. johnnyhouse

    NO one should think that this will not be fought as soon as the Liberal is installed next in the Supreme Court. Your next vote in the next election will decide whether you will become a dictator nation or a free country again.And by free I do not mean more welfare. The killings in this country are fueled by drugs and would not be a problem except for free money sent to the inner cities where the drugs are being paid for by you the taxpayer. Anyone who disagrees should give their opinion of how someone without a job can afford these drugs in cities where there is no employment. No one on drugs can hold down a job for very long or do you disagree with that?

    June 28, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Itsall Tuna

      Druggies are not using their meager welfare checks to buy the drugs. They are stealing your stuff and you are replacing it. THAT makes good business. 60,000 Baltimore drug addicts steal about $2billion worth of stuff each year to support their habits. And that amount is adjusted for the ones who can still work and be an addict. If I were a retailer in Baltimore, i would love the drug trade, and I would not have to be involved with the drugs at all.

      June 28, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ugh

    You all probably live in the suburbs so you would never understand why we in the city just want guns to go away.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. MichiganLiberal

    @johnnyhouse: Good point. Time to consider banning cars and hamburgers. There should be an extra penalty if you're caught giving either to a minor.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. zack


    June 28, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      i agree.

      November 30, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. JD

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." – end of discussion!

    June 28, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Carl

    For you gun control advocates that bemoan this decision...remember – when seconds count, the police are just minutes away. But don't worry...they will thoroughly investigate your family's murders. My family will be safe though...because I exercise my right to own a handgun and defend my family.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. Brice H.

    I have seen quite a few idiots on this forum. Don't you realize that government is not the answer. More power and regulation is not what we need on gun ownership. I caution all of you that think that not having guns is a good thing. As for me, they can have my guns when they pry it from my cold dead hands. I am glad that the Supreme Court got this one right, for a second time.
    Rick, find some newer data. 1994 was 16 years ago.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. ChiTownPhilly

    Wow so many ignorant people making stupid comments about guns. Maybe until you live here in Chicago and see people murdered because we cant get rid of guns then you will understand that this is a poor decision. ANYONE that says Guns dont kill people, people kill people, is an idiot. How many children have gotten hold of Daddys gun and blown themselves or thier friend away? How many people have 'saved' a life by owning a gun? Don't be foolish, get rid of guns and there won;t be any more shooting. Get over it or move to Montana where you can shoot your gun and not risk any harm or have any unintended consequences.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Whatthehell

      AMEN!!! Live on the southside of Chicago for a few years before making a generalization about guns.

      June 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Why would living in chicago give me any understanding of guns? Prior to this decision, no one there could legally own guns. You want to understand something about guns, you have to actually talk to people who own them, put your hands on one (gun, not person), actually own a gun for yourself. Living in a place where guns are banned is how you remain ignorant about them. You have a great perspective on criminals....

      June 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SPP

    As a police officer I appreciate an armed and PROPERLY TRAINED citizen. If you choose to own a firearm for your protection, PLEASE seek professional training and train on a regular basis. Talk to your family members about what you need them to do in the event you need to use your weapon to defend your life, their life, or the life of another. As for those criminals out there with illegal weapons, we are looking for you!!

    June 28, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. likeIGotTwoHeads

    Al-Qaeda doesn't need to attack us. They couldn't possibly kill as many Americans as Americans already do. Now the herd will really be thinned.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. LOUD NOISES!!!

    Why is everyone thanking GOD? It was the supreme court (human beings) that ruled against the ban. If there is a god, I am pretty sure god has better things to do.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jim

    It is not about gunslinging or shootouts on Main St. at high noon. It IS about checks and balances between the people and their government. Consider when the 2nd Amendment was written. The United States hadn't just rebelled from England using Hope and Change. They used guns. The Founding Fathers wished to empower the people with the means to defend themselves and their property not from burglers in the night but from their government.

    June 28, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
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