The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a law banning handguns in Chicago is unconstitutional. Homeowners in McDonald v. Chicago want to be able to keep a handgun in their homes as a means of self-defense and assert this as a right guaranteed under the second amendment and protected or incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment. The ban originally enacted 28 years ago has done little to control gun violence in the windy city. People do not feel safe and want to pack some compact household heat.
The second amendment says nothing about the right of an individual to use a handgun for self-defense. Nor does it imply that an individual has the right to pack any heat at all. Rather, it gives the states the right to form a well-regulated militia to protect its citizens. We can see this in state defense forces and in modern times our local and state police forces. Here is the actual text:
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.
Lifting the ban means more handguns will be in circulation in ChiTown which in my view makes the city even more dangerous. If I were a Chicagoan, I would challenge the ruling on the basis that allowing and thus encouraging people to possess concealed weapons is a threat to life, liberty and property.
It is important to note that the ban was never a ban on arms. Folks in Chicago have always been able to keep a registered shotgun or rifle in the house, as long as it is out of the reach of a minor.
A firearm is not the only means of self-protection. A good alarm system can bring piece of mind and security. 911 works too, and with a cellphone, you can remain in contact with the authorities. A text message can quietly provide details. Record it. Put up a sign saying house under constant video surveillance. A fearful granny could sleep alongside an ax. An aluminum baseball bat packs a punch. And one of the best deterrents I know is a barking dog.
I do not adhere to a strict interpretation of the constitution based on what the founders were thinking. I believe the constitution should evolve and be applied reasonably to address modern societal issues. I think law abiding adults should have a right to own a registered gun for lawful purposes. But I also believe the states and municipalities have a fundamental obligation to try local solutions to keep their citizens safe. I don’t believe a federal ruling should trump a local approach to a unique urban problem. It is true that gun violence is on the rise in Chicago, but with this SCOTUS ruling which surely delights members of the NRA, the powerful gun lobby, I expect gun violence to skyrocket.