In a 5-4 decision in the summer of 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty was apoplectic. “More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence,” he predicted, demanding that the City Council promptly enact onerous new gun control rigmarole that would “get around” the Heller decision.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley exclaimed that he and other mayors across the country were outraged by the decision. He, too, predicted more deaths, along with Wild West-style shoot-outs.
“Armageddon never arrived,” John Lott Jr. points out in a March 1 essay for FOXNews.com. Quite to the contrary, murders in Washington plummeted by a whopping 25 percent from 2008 to 2009, Mr. Lott reports. D.C.’s murder rate “is now down to 23.5 per 100,000 people, Washington’s lowest since 1967.”
In Chicago, handguns have been outlawed since 1982. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass noted in 2008 that two types of people are still allowed to have handguns: “The criminals. And the politicians.” The politicians use their pull to either “become deputized peace officers so they can carry” or “often go around surrounded by armed bodyguards on the city payroll.”
The Chicago bosses just don’t want to extend those safety benefits to lowly taxpayers such as Otis McDonald, the lead plaintiff in McDonald v. Chicago, the gun-rights case heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Mr. McDonald is a 76-year-old black man living in a neighborhood infested with drug dealers. His home has been burglarized three times, and he’d like to possess a handgun that he can easily access next to his bed.
Technically, the point at issue in the McDonald case is whether the restrictions of the Second Amendment apply exclusively in federal jurisdictions or whether they also limit the ability of states and local governments to impose controls on gun ownership.
During arguments, it appeared the five justices who voted to uphold gun rights in the Heller case would take a similar stand in the Chicago case. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy described the individual right to possess a gun as being of fundamental character, like the right to free speech.
Indeed, states and local jurisdictions are bound by First Amendment free speech rights and other restrictions on government power outlined in the Bill of Rights. Why would the Second Amendment be any different?
This is a no-brainer. Mr. McDonald should carry the day.