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High Court to review handgun ban

September 30, 2009 8:29:32 PM PDT
The constitutionality of Chicago's ban on handguns will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.The high court agreed today to hear arguments in the case. Opponents of gun control have challenged the bans on weapons in Chicago and several suburbs. The justices will review a lower court ruling that upheld Chicago's handgun ban.

Supporters of gun rights say they're confident that Chicago's 27-year-old ban on handguns will be struck down. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C. However, because D.C. is a federal enclave, that ruling did not apply to Chicago's ban. This case will settle that question.

"I'm confident that a year from now there will not be a Chicago handgun ban," said Alan Gura, plaintiff's attorney.

Having to reign in their enthusiasm over Wednesday's decision that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear their case, local gun rights supporters say they're almost certain that the end is near for Chicago's handgun ban.

They filed the case, "McDonald versus City of Chicago," immediately after the high court's decision last year against the handgun ban in Washington, D.C. Otis McDonald, 76, one of several plaintiffs, says many of the children he's watched grow up in his Southwest Side neighborhood are now thugs who threaten him.

"The police's job would be much easier if people in their homes had guns to protect themselves," said McDonald.

The Illinois State Rifle Association says violent crime in Chicago will go down if people are allowed to legally own guns.

"They have turned Chicago into a crime capital. They've taken the firearms out of law-abiding citizen's hands so the only people who have them are police who are too few in number ? and criminals," said Richard Pearson, Illinois State Rifle Association.

The Supreme Court has set the stage for a historic ruling on gun rights and the Second Amendment.

Last year's decision left open the question of whether state and local gun-control ordinances could be struck down. Harold Krent, dean of the Kent College School of Law, thinks the days of Chicago's handgun ban are indeed numbered.

"My guess is the handgun ban will be thrown out on the ground that there is an individual right of gun ownership not only for federal government but also against city and states," said Krent.

Krent says for 200 years, the Supreme Court had interpreted the Second Amendment as applying only to national laws with an aim of preserving militias. But with last year's ruling, the high court decided for the first time that there was an individual right to bear arms.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on this case by next June.


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