Supreme Court rules that ‘right to bear arms’ applies to states in 5-4 decision on McDonald v. Chicago

Amanda Carey Contributor
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The Supreme Court today ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms” does indeed apply to the states. In the 5-4 decision (with Justices John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy in the majority), the court essentially reinforced the ruling in the D.C. v. Heller case two years ago, which declared Washington D.C.’s gun ban unconstitutional. Stephen Breyer was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and John Paul Stevens in dissenting.

But since Washington is a federal city, it was unclear whether the ruling applied to states and localities. A lawsuit against Chicago’s own gun laws was filed shortly thereafter.

McDonald v. Chicago sought to answer two important questions: whether the Heller ruling could be incorporated to the states (rendering all state and city gun bans unconstitutional) and whether it could be done so via the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Writing for the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito ruled the Heller decision could be incorporated to the states through the 14th Amendment, but rejected the use of the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Instead, he chose to apply gun rights through the Due Proces Clause.

Only Thomas was in favor of using the Privileges Clause, writing in his concurring opinion, “I cannot agree that it is enforceable against the States through a clause that speaks only to “process.” Instead, the right to keep and bear arms is a privilege of American citizenship that applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause …”

In a press release following the announcement, Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center said, “People will die because of this decision. It is a victory only for the gun lobby and America’s fading firearms industry … The gun lobby and gunmakers are seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of our nation’s gun laws in a cynical effort to try and stem the long-term drop in gun ownership and save the dwindling gun industry.”

The office of Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley declined to issue a statement when contacted by The Daily Caller. Daley will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. central time.

Lead council for the Chicago case, Alan Gura, who also filed the D.C. lawsuit has not yet responded to requests from The Daily Caller to comment on the ruling.