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.
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