Posted by Edmond Geary | Posted in Constitutional rights, Legal rights | Posted on 07-08-2010
The United States Supreme Court recently decided that citizens have a constitutional right to possess a firearm in their home, and that Second Amendment right applies to the states. That means cities like Chicago have to change their laws regulating the possession of guns.
Four days after the Supreme Court decision invalidating Chicago’s gun ban, the City Council enacted new, gentler gun-control regulations. The vote was unanimous for the 45 aldermen voting for the measure. The council wanted to put new handgun law in place before the invalidated law disappears, and the city has no regulation at all.
Of course, Mayor Daly explained passage of the law as designed to keep guns out of the hands of “gangbangers and drug dealers.” And, of course, the ordinance is explained as supporting adults who legitimately want a gun in their home for self-defense. But some aldermen believe the new ordinance will have more impact on law-abiding citizens than on anyone intending to commit a crime with their gun.
The new law took effect 10 days after it was passed. It will require anyone who wants to keep a handgun in their home lawfully to first obtain a permit from the City of Chicago. The permit requires the holder to complete firearm training and a record without any convictions of a violent crime, any record of violent use of a firearm, or two or more charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Each gun must be registered by the city, and a person can register only one weapon each month. A permit-holder may have only one handgun in readily operable condition at one time. The permit requires the handguns be kept only in the home, and the ordinance excludes garages, porches, and exterior stairs from the definition of a home.
The ordinance prohibits gun sales, firing ranges or shooting galleries inside the City of Chicago. The ban on sales is expected to be challenged in court, as are other provisions of the ordinance. The council knows that. Aldermen were quoted as saying they could not imagine how anyone could possibly question the reasonableness of their regulations, but they know the challenges are coming.
One of the aldermen, Leslie Hairston, said he thought the Supreme Court was wrong in their opinion upholding the Second Amendment just like the Court was wrong about segregation. Historically, he’s right, but he forgot that it was the Supreme Court which turned the country around in the matter of segregation, beginning with the decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Wichita. Only after years of decisions from the Supreme Court following the Brown decision did the executive and legislative branches address segregation significantly, the partial integration of the armed forces during World War II being a significant – but isolated – exception.
During consideration of the ordinance, several aldermen expressed the belief that the Supreme Court would never have overturned their gun law if the justices were more familiar with urban violence. This comment shows the myopic viewpoint council, one incapable of looking beyond their routine horse-trading, pragmatic approach to everything. These same aldermen would be the ones to fault any court-ordered restrictions to police handling of public demonstrators because the police need to protect public order. They are unaware of the importance of protecting free speech by the First Amendment to the Constitution. All countries have crowd problems and crime problems. Only the United States has the Bill of Rights, including what is left of the Fourth Amendment.