Supreme Court to Decide Chicago Gun Case

Published September 30, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court today (9-30) agreed to hear an important Second Amendment case challenging the constitutionality of Chicago’s gun ban ordinance.

Last year the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that federal laws prohibiting citizens from owning handguns are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The Chicago case raises the question not presented in Heller–whether the Second Amendment prohibits states and their municipal subdivisions from enacting such laws.

Heartland filed amicus briefs in Heller, and Heartland and the Independence Institute filed one in the Chicago case at the appeals court level. Heartland’s policy studies and other scholarship have monitored gun ownership issues throughout the country for decades. The following experts applaud the Court’s decision. In your coverage of this ruling, you may quote from their comments below or contact them directly for more information.


“This case raises the important issue in our system of limited, federal government about the interplay between the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution and contrary state laws. The Supreme Court’s previous holdings on this subject have been confusing and contradictory, so it is welcome news that the Court will now clarify them.

“As our amicus briefs have repeatedly emphasized, more gun ownership by private citizens means less crime. Police cannot be everywhere and protect everyone, and the courts have ruled they have no duty to defend private citizens. Thus it’s not surprising that surveys show every year at least 97,000 citizens use guns for self-defense, usually without a shot being fired.

“In Chicago, the rates of burglary and aggravated assault have skyrocketed since 1983, the first year the handgun ban was in effect in the city, and they consistently remain much worse than in the rest of the United States.

“It is time for the Supreme Court to extend its holding in Heller and rule the Chicago ordinance is unconstitutional.”

Maureen Martin, J.D.

Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs

The Heartland Institute

(920) 229-6670

[email protected]


“I hope the Supreme Court’s decision to hear this handgun ban case will result in another ruling affirming that individuals, and not militias, retain the constitutional right to armed self-defense. Just as the Heller decision invalidated the Washington, DC handgun ban, the citizens of Chicago may soon regain freedoms intended as a gift from the nation’s founders.

“One of the plaintiffs in this case, Otis McDonald, needs a handgun to defend himself and protect his hearth and home in a dangerous, drug war-infested area of Chicago. A ruling in his favor means that he, all Chicagoans, and all Americans will step toward freedom and away from tyranny.

“A ruling affirming the Second Amendment applies to the states and their subdivisions will be a major stride toward individual liberty and constitutional freedom, as the false promises of security from gun control policies which disarm law-abiding citizens are replaced by a commitment to observe and apply the tenets of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

Ralph Conner

Local Legislation Manager

The Heartland Institute

Former Mayor of Maywood, Illinois

(312) 377-4000

[email protected]


“When Congress ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, it plainly expressed its intention of protecting all of the freedoms in the Bill of Rights, and especially the right to keep and bear arms, from violation by state and local governments. In ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment, the American people were well aware of how the disarmament of freedmen in the South had been imposed in order to keep them in de facto servitude.

“The Ku Klux Klan’s program of domestic terrorism was always imposed by first disarming the freedmen and other supporters of civil rights. Yet for decades the Supreme Court turned a blind eye to state and local infringements of the Bill of Rights. Later the Court finally began to start taking the Fourteenth Amendment seriously, and today most of the Bill of Rights is applicable to state and local governments.

“In the Chicago case, the Court can close the largest remaining loophole in Bill of Rights enforcement. The time has come for the Court to guarantee that the most fundamental of all rights–the right to defend one’s life and one’s family–shall not be infringed.”

David B. Kopel

Research Director

Independence Institute

(303) 279-6536

[email protected]