The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case tomorrow regarding Chicago’s handgun ban.  The crux of the issue is this… does Second Amendment rights extend to state and local governments.  You may remember two years ago in the District of Columbia v. Heller case the Supreme Court overturned D.C’s handgun ban.  Writing the majority opinion Justice Antonin Scalia said:

It held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms and that the city’s total ban on handguns, as well as its requirement that firearms in the home be kept nonfunctional even when necessary for self-defense, violated that right.

He later on calls it a “fundamental right” linking it to the right to self-defense using the technology available to us today.  The majority disputed that the Second Amendment applied only to a militia or a group… likening the language of the Second Amendment’s phrase “right of the people” to the First Amendment’s assembly-and-petition clause, the Fourth Amendment’s search-and-seizure clause, and the Ninth Amendment.  All of those refer to individual rights, not “collective” rights (rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body).

One would have thought that this decision would apply to Chicago’s ban, but not so as the ruling only applied to D.C. since it is under federal jurisdiction.  So Chicago is has said, and has been backed up by lower courts, it doesn’t extend to state and municipalities.

Which doesn’t make sense, what good is the Second Amendment if any state or local government can take it away?  I believe that the Supreme Court will take the opportunity to affirm that yes, this right applies to states and municipalities.

This makes me wonder how it will impact current Iowa law.  Right now people have to apply for conceal/carry permits through county sheriffs.  The law gives sheriffs a lot of discretion on whether or not they will issue such a permit.  Some sheriffs are good, others it seems like the burden is on those applying to prove why they need one.  For instance you have Dubuque County Sherriff Kenneth Runde who said:

Sheriff Kenneth Runde said he’s more willing to hand out professional permits for those who legitimately need to carry a gun for a job, but he’s cautious about approving them for others.

"If it’s a nonprofessional permit, they need to give me a good reason to carry a gun just to walk around in the streets," Runde said. "I just don’t give one across the board for everyone to carry in their belt."

If the Chicago ban is overturned I think it’ll send notice that the burden of proof is on the government to explain why a permit is denied.  As it should be.  The default should be granting a permit unless there are compelling reasons (ex-convict, mental illness, etc.).  Perhaps Iowa’s General Assembly should take note as they take up HF 2439 which in my opinion accomplishes nothing to remedy the problems of county sheriffs being overly subjective on whether to issue a permit or not.

3 comments
  1. As a rather small woman of unimpressive coordination and balance, I like guns. They put me on equal footing with the biggest, baddest SOB that might wish me or mine harm. Hope this goes well!
    .-= Foxfier´s last blog ..Reaction Time Test =-.

  2. I believe that the Second Amendment applies to individual citizens of the United States. My reasons for this are as follows.

    First, in addition to the amendments you cited, the Tenth Amendment seals the deal for me. Here it is:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    This tells us that the federal government is specifically limited to the powers given to it in the Constitution. They cannot legally continue the power grab that has characterized our government since this document was ratified. This amendment leaves all other rights in the hands of the states and the people. Now, the terminology use in the Bill of Rights is crucial. When it is talking about the federal government, it says “United States.” When it is talking about the states, it uses the term “states.” When it is talking about the individual citizens, it uses the word “people.” This is clear from the examples you cited. For instance, it is not the states that are protected from unreasonable search and seizure. It is the individuals—the people. The Second Amendment declares it is the right of the people—the individual citizens—to keep and bear arms. Case closed.

    But if you need more evidence, my second reason is this. In the Federalist Papers, James Madison, who knew something about the Constitution, states clearly (Paper No. 46) that the militia is made up of private citizens all who have been guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. He states that it is their duty to resist a tyrannical government. Why doesn’t anyone read this stuff?

    The third reason is an uncomfortable one for our squeamish little liberal friends. The reason for the Second Amendment is not to allow citizens to hunt although that is a legitimate use of a firearm. Nor is it to defend oneself from personal attack although that, too, is a legitimate use of a firearm. The real reason the Second Amendment is in the Constitution is so the PEOPLE can defend themselves against the tyranny of government. It is so that when the federal government comes to take your rights away the PEOPLE can form militias and offer stiff resistance to the feds who come for them. My liberal friends, are you ready for this? It is there so the people can kill the tyrannical rulers who come for them.

    Does this make you uncomfortable? Our revolutionary forefathers protested their Stamp Acts and had a nice tea party in the harbor at Boston. But when did this become a shooting war? When the Brits came to Lexington and Concord to confiscate weapons!!! I am not here advocating insurrection. Please don’t misunderstand. I am saying that our forefathers knew what was going to happen and guaranteed the people a way to fight back. ‘Nugh said.

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