LAS VEGAS – The rights of United States citizenship include the right to keep and bear arms, and the current challenge to the handgun ban in the City of Chicago is being fought to establish that this right applies to all citizens, and not just the residents of Washington, D.C., who were he ultimate winners in the Heller decision.
That was the message from Virginia attorney Alan Gura, who argued the landmark Heller case before the U.S. Supreme Court almost two years ago. The case of McDonald v. City of Chicago is one of two challenges filed against the Chicago handgun ban within 24 hours of the Heller ruling. Gura is representing the Bellevue, WA-based Second Amendment Foundation and Illinois State Rifle Association, and four individual Chicago residents.
His remarks came during a press conference at the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show here.
The other case was filed by the National Rifle Association and is essentially “on hold” since the Supreme Court only accepted the SAF challenge for review.
Gura noted that the case “would not have happened without the support” of the foundation, and toward the end of the conference, he encouraged people to contribute to SAF “and take a new person shooting.”
“McDonald is important,” Gura said, “to assure that all rights apply to all citizens.”
The Heller ruling essentially applied to citizens living in the District of Columbia, although it did define the Second Amendment as protective of an individual civil right that extends beyond service in a militia.
An affirmative ruling in McDonald, striking down the Chicago ban and incorporating the Second Amendment to apply to state and local governments through the 14th Amendment is the next step toward expanding the right to keep and bear arms, Gura explained.
He was joined on the stage by Lawrence Keane, vice president and legal counsel to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. NSSF has filed an amicus brief to the court supporting the SAF lawsuit, and Keane expressed confidence that the lawsuit will prevail. NSSF sponsors the SHOT Show.
Keane noted that it is through the firearms industry that the Second Amendment is exercised. He said that if laws are allowed that increasingly restrict the right to bear arms, eventually that right becomes illusory.
A victory in the McDonald case, he said, is the “beginning of an era of litigation” that will ultimately define the right.
SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, who serves as the organization’s executive vice president, noted that SAF has engaged Gura to lead its legal challenges in several cases. SAF has challenged a handgun roster in Washington, D.C. that was adopted after the Heller ruling, and is challenging tenets of the 1968 gun control act that prevent American citizens living abroad from legally buying firearms when they come home to visit, because they are not legal residents of a state.
Information on the Chicago gun case is available at Chicagoguncase.com. Watch for more in the next issue of Gun Week.
Was Coakley defeat enhanced by gun owner anger?
Can Massachusetts gun owners, the Gun Owners Action League and National Rifle Association claim part of the credit for Martha Coakley’s loss to Scott Brown in the race to fill the vacant Senate seat occupied previously by the late Ted Kennedy?
That much was suggested by NSSF’s Larry Keane during the press conference. He noted that Coakley was not among 38 state attorneys general who have submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting the Second Amendment Foundation’s lawsuit against the City of Chicago handgun ban. Voters are angry in general these days; it’s not good to have voting gun owners angry enough to descend on the polls.
Obama acknowledged that voter anger helped carry Republican Scott Brown to a stunning victory in Tuesday’s Massachusetts election which has imperiled the president’s healthcare effort and the rest of his legislative agenda.
Keane indicated that voters in western Massachusetts were reminded of this fact prior to the election. The west end of the state us more rural, and there are more gun owners.
The Coakley loss will be debated for a long time, and Brown’s victory has made it less likely, as I noted here yesterday, that after the Obama administration finishes its fight over so-called health care “reform” that the White House will turn its attention to gun control. That will be tougher with Brown, an NRA “A”-rated Republican, now headed to the Senate.
The National Rifle Association gave (Brown) an A (and his opponent, Martha Coakley, an F) for his voting records opposing gun control.
Gun owners all over the country are waiting to see how the high court rules in the McDonald case, as the issue has national importance. An affirmative ruling – which is anticipated – will incorporate the Second Amendment through the 14th Amendment to give state legislatures and local governments reason to take a hard look at proposed gun control laws before taking action on those measures.
In Washington state, that would mean anti-gun lawmakers like Senators Adam Kline and Jeanne Kohl-Welles face even less chance of success than they have now of passing sweeping gun control laws.
More from Gun Rights Examiners
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