Chicago area reacts to handgun ban ruling

June 3, 2009 3:47:52 PM PDT
There's mixed reaction on Wednesday night to a federal appeals court ruling that upholds handgun bans in both Chicago and Oak Park. The ruling came from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, one step below the Supreme Court. Experts say the basis for upholding the bans is simple -- it is not for the lower court to decide.

It's a shot through the view that all local gun bans should fall in light of the Supreme Court's ruling last June. It said the constitution's second amendment allows citizens to own handguns.

The National Rifle Association said it will appeal.

"The Seventh Circuit got it wrong...As the Supreme Court said, the second amendment is an individual right that 'belongs to all Americans'," said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist, in a statement.

As Chicago students accepted awards for their art and essays decrying gun violence on Wednesday, legal experts say the question of the second amendment's applicability to state law is still open for debate.

"All of the important amendments have been incorporated to the states but it took a separate series of decisions to do it.In other words, what the Supreme Court says is this applies to the federal government and then five, 10, 15 years later a case comes from the states and they decide, okay, this applies to the states as well," said Prof. Leonard Cavise, DePaul College of Law.

Cavise says the Supreme Court takes on a question when several circuit courts ask them to take it on. One of those would be the 2nd Circuit -- New York's court -- where Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor sits. In a recent case, she also indicated that the issue of banning handguns must be heard by the nation's top court -- a case of "following the law."

"She basically said I understand how concepts of federalism. This is for the Supreme Court to call, regardless of how I feel about it. In the Seventh Circuit, Judge Easterbrook said exactly the same thing," said Cavise.

Seventh circuit Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan.

"I think guns ought to be allowed on a permanent basis, of course, but if they're felons, absolutely not, but with a permit, absolutely....That is our law," said John Weaver.

"I was stuck up three weeks ago in Logan Square which thankfully we walked away okay but I really don't think that anyone should have personal choice of weapon that can control the life of another person," said Jasmine Valmores.

City spokesperson says Chicago is prepared to go to the Supreme Court, "if we have to..." and in the meantime will aggressively enforce its ordinance.


Load Comments