Supremes incorporate Second Amendment in Chicago weapons ban case

By J. DeVoy

Today the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment applies equally to states as well as federal laws.  McDonald v. Chicago, ___ U.S. ___ (2010).  In a predictable 5-4 split  decision, the court held that restrictions on the individual right to bear arms cannot trammel the second amendment — essentially a death knell to complete arms bans around the nation, though the court did not strike down Chicago’s anti-weapons laws.

The decision is a fitting comeuppance for a nanny state that even banned foie gras for a while.

47 Responses to Supremes incorporate Second Amendment in Chicago weapons ban case

  1. If you need a handgun to protect yourself from society, you are probably too sociopathic to be carrying a handgun. Mr. McDonald has been interviewed in the Chicago press, and he makes it quite clear that he would rather kill someone than move to the next township. So how does that make him substantially different than his ‘enemies’?

    I don’t want to prevent people from owning guns, but let’s face it: most people probably shouldn’t.

    • J DeVoy says:

      What about when moving isn’t possible? Remember Bernie Goetz? On Fathers Day weekend, there were 50 shootings, 10 of them fatal, in the city of Chicago despite this weapons ban. In contrast, the sheer ability of normal people to possess some kind of firearm in the city will serve as some form of deterrent once the 7th Circuit or N.D. Ill. strikes down the relevant laws.

      • Nobody has been able to link C&C with deterrence. All you’re doing is allowing the individual to engage in the same violent behavior that you seek to curb, for the purpose of self-preservation. The individual narrative is very compelling, but the societal one is quite different.

        As a society, I think we have to ask ourselves ‘what is our vision of the future?’ Do we want to be an orderly society with restrictions, or an unshackled one that is heavily armed? If the government can’t regulate the type of firearm we own, will our streets look like Baghdad one day?

        Sadly, this has become an all-or-nothing debate. All I’m saying is that there must be middle-ground.

        • J DeVoy says:

          I’m not talking about C&C. The Chicago ban is a prohibition on ALL guns, not just carrying them. The government on the state and local level likely still will regulate such matters, just as it did until the assault weapons ban before it expired – it just can’t ban the owning of guns like the restrictions at issue in Heller and, now, McDonald did.

          The belief in a middle ground is why no such middle ground exists. For all the advances we’ve made as a society, our current state is more primal than ever. In terms of economics, opportunity, sex – everything – life is now a winner-take-all affair. This extends to killing or being killed. If other people are willing to play on such terms, you will lose if you do not.

          • Thanks for the links. Again, it boils down to a vision of the future. Failing to organize into a just society *is* primal, and ultimately dangerous. Ironically, it will lead to the curtailment of freedoms which its proponents now trumpet.

          • J DeVoy says:

            Who’s defining “just”?

          • I suppose society defines justice. A winner-take-all society requires systemic inequities in order to exist: people in power use the government to maintain high entry barriers in the marketplace, restrict educational opportunities, reduce tax burdens on the wealthy and powerful, limit the ability to participate in government. There is nothing ‘free’ or ‘libertarian’ about it.

  2. blueollie says:

    I admit it: I had to google “foie gras”. :)

    • J DeVoy says:

      And it is delicious. Go have some this weekend, ideally if it’s paired with something flavorful. Foie gras is fatty and takes on elements of whatever it’s prepared with, which leads to a number of interesting combinations.

      • Oh, its fucking amazing really. If you really want a decadent joy, have it as a topping on a nice fatty ribeye!

        • evrenseven says:

          I’ve actually had that before, and it should just come with a pack of unfiltered Pall Malls and a GMC Gremlin with a rag for a gas cap to drive home. To call it “decadent” doesn’t do it justice; it’s AMERICADENT.

        • J DeVoy says:

          Speaking of glorious excess, there’s this place in Brooklyn that regularly serves up exotic meats from bear, kangaroo, crocodile, etc., but I can’t recall the name of it; it may even be closed. Nevertheless, eating nature is an excellent way to show your appreciation of it.

        • Well, since we’re talking about Chicago and foie gras, you can’t leave without mentioning the Kobe-Foie Gras hamburger at Sweets & Savories in Lincoln Park. I believe they were one of the many restaurants that continued to serve foie gras ‘out of the back’ during the prohibition.

          Here’s a link (turn down your volume, the website music is obnoxious):

  3. Charles Platt says:

    “If you need a handgun to protect yourself from society, you are probably too sociopathic to be carrying a handgun.” Love these all-purpose generalizations never supported by anything other than bias. I guess I am sociopathic, since I have two handguns.

    And from the same contributor: “Nobody has been able to link C&C with deterrence.” I guess you have not read, for instance, “More Guns, Less Crime,” which very meticulously demonstrated deterrence by measuring crime rates in adjacent counties, where one adopted a concealed-carry law and the other didn’t. Criminals naturally gravitated to areas where their victims would be less likely to be armed.

    Just because you believe something passionately, does not make it true.

    • From the New England Journal of Medicine:

      “In at least six articles published elsewhere, 10 academics found enough serious flaws in Lott’s analysis to discount his findings completely. These critiques are consistent with my own experience in formulating models to assess whether state-level changes in the legal drinking age affected youth crime, which convinced me that Lott’s statistical approach can sometimes yield invalid results.

      The central problem is that crime moves in waves, yet Lott’s analysis does not include variables that can explain these cycles. For example, he uses no variables on gangs, drug consumption, or community policing. As a result, many of Lott’s findings make no sense. He finds, for example, that both increasing the rate of unemployment and reducing income reduces the rate of violent crimes and that reducing the number of black women 40 years old or older (who are rarely either perpetrators or victims of murder) substantially reduces murder rates. Indeed, according to Lott’s results, getting rid of older black women will lead to a more dramatic reduction in homicide rates than increasing arrest rates or enacting shall-issue laws.

      Not surprisingly, Lott’s model fails several statistical specification tests designed to determine its accuracy, and other models lead to very different results. For example, Jens Ludwig, an economist at Georgetown University, uses a different statistical approach and finds that the movement to shall-issue laws has, if anything, caused homicide rates to increase.”

      – David Hemenway, Ph.D.

    • I dunno… I sorta get the point — and I too have my own personal arsenal. (I will not reveal how many guns I have, because I think you never should let anyone know how many you’ve got).

      The point is, how many circumstances will you encounter where a gun would really be necessary? Sure, some fucking punk comes up to me and says “get out of the car or I will shoot you.” At that moment, maybe I pull the gun from my console and blow the fucker away… but, is that *really* the best solution? Sure, I have a nice car, but is keeping my Porsche worth taking that guy’s life? In that very instant, my instincts would probably say “yes.” If I were armed and confronted with that situation, I must admit, I’d probably shoot the guy.

      But, afterward… I wonder how much I would regret it. As much of a piece of shit as the carjacker might be, he has a mom, a dad, friends, siblings …

      Now, of course, so do I. And, if I knew, for a fact, that getting out of the car and letting him take it would be the end of it, that might be one thing… on the other hand, it might simply mean that he’d shoot me from behind the wheel of my own car. So, for that reason, I think that if you’re confronted with an armed criminal, you ought to remove him from the gene pool.

      conclusion – while I probably fall on Charles’ side of the debate, I think that Michael’s point is really the “better” position. I can recognize that without agreeing with him.

  4. Clint says:

    God Michael Miles is a… Well, I hear calling names isn’t good for debate. But some people just feel like lost causes.

    The right to life is the most basic right to all, the the right to be able to defend my life using whatever means I deem necessary is 100X more important than freedom of speech, press, or any other freedom. Freedoms are meaningless if you’re dead.

    P.S. Too bad it’s not possible to ask murder victims who are already dead if they wish they’d had a gun. I’m thinking a lot of people changed their mind about gun control the instant they were killed. Too bad they can’t vote.

    • Real nice. Name calling definitely strengthens your argument.

      Hey Clint, since you’re so comfortable being hyperbolic, why don’t we ask the victims of domestic violence who were murdered by their spouses, or the young kids who were gunned down on their way to school? Or the teenagers who committed suicide using daddy’s 9mm?

      Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it?

  5. Sahri says:

    As an 8-year Chicago resident, I would like to add a few points to this debate. First of all, we, like other people we know, owned and kept a handgun at home despite the local ordinance. There is, in fact, case law in Illinois which provides people with an affirmative defense to criminal violation of local gun laws if you were discharging it in your own home in self-defense. I believe it has been somewhat codified, but I’m not well-versed in the details.

    People who feel the need to own a handgun are comfortable with the risks associated with breaking the local laws. For them, the trade-off is clear. So the debate is, in effect, an academic debate over individual rights and whether they are conferred to us by the Constitution. My personal feeling is that as long as law enforcement cannot prevent criminals from obtaining handguns, then I have the right to protect my family using deadly force. Anyone coming into my home in the middle of the night is not dropping off a gift basket. Am I supposed to be a sitting duck waiting for the police to rescue us? Does anyone really want to depend on a stranger to save their cookies?

    I am not about to debate whether we should strive towards a peaceful, more equitable society. I think those are lofty goals that are simply unobtainable. A competely peaceful society demands that every citizen enter into that social contract. While most people are reasonable and rational, there are plenty of people who are simply sociopathic and don’t give a shit about others. Some of those people even grew up in loving homes with all sorts of economic advantages.

    But for gun control advocates out there, there is hope yet. Word has it that the City of Chicago has all sorts of cumbersome hoops for legitimate handgun owners to jump through, including training courses and registration with CPD ballistics. I feel confident nothing much is going to change around her.

  6. Upper1 says:

    I feel like I’m getting to this discussion a bit late, but having clerked in criminal courts and worked as a defense attorney, I can attest personally that the overwhelming majority of violent crime, perpetrated by gun wielders is personal, or gang related. (I’m not assuming I’m the only one in this discussion either) Thus, the concept that I should be able to carry a .357 for protection against a hypothetical stranger on a crime spree is really moot in most circumstances.

    On the other hand, gun control largely works only on those who abide by the law, and really just makes arms dealing more lucrative for those who don’t give a shit about the law. So, laws like those that are the focus of Heller and McDonald are really useless. They do little, if anything, to stop gangstas from getting guns and shooting each other dead, or from going to a stash house armed and ready to blow away grandma who lives in the same duplex.

    I’m assuming that most of the people who’ve read this blog more than once or twice has little faith in the legislature to enact laws that are best for the people and their liberties. In that sense, I like this decision, although, I thought Scalia’s reasoning in Heller was totally bullshit. As the saying goes, you have to take the good with the bad…

    • Upper1 says:

      The sentence in the parentheses should have read “I’m not assuming I’m the only one in this discussion with similar experience either.”

    • J DeVoy says:

      [L]aws like those that are the focus of Heller and McDonald are really useless. They do little, if anything, to stop gangstas from getting guns and shooting each other dead, or from going to a stash house armed and ready to blow away grandma who lives in the same duplex.


    • I’m not an attorney, nor do I have a law degree, but I would like to make a broader point that I think is important.

      The effectiveness of laws like Heller and McDonald should not be used as an argument to change strategy, only tactics. Current gun control laws are crafted in a hostile legislative environment described by Mr. DeVoy as ‘winner take all’. We either ban guns but created loopholes, or carry them on the streets. But through it all, there is plenty of economic incentive to manufacture the guns that are causing problems, creating lots of supply. In the foreground is a debate, not about balancing the power of government and citizenry, but about vigilantism. Toss in a couple of anecdotes on both sides, and you have a debate lacking any rationality.

      I think it’s fair to say that our society was designed to find middle ground, in a Hegelian sense. The fact that we’re still flipping between diametrically opposite poles is very disappointing.

      I don’t want to confiscate people’s guns, but there is plenty of data showing that societies with fewer guns are less violent. So, why wouldn’t I want to work toward that goal?

      If the frame of the debate were different, we could find middle ground: offer the protection of the Second Amendment and limit the use of handguns. The alternative is probably the Baghdad scenario. If the Feds won’t restrict weaponry like assault rifles (or worse), and the states are opening up rights to carry, then when will we see militias on the streets?

      • Harry Mauron says:

        “societies with fewer guns are less violent”

        Fine. Can you prove causation, or just correlation? Do these (utopian/european) less violent socieites have more or less freedom? The crime rate in Singapore is trivial, but the goverment surveils and violently supresses a wide variety of non-conforming behavior – is that a trade you’re willing to make?

        • Um, in social science, induction allows for correlation with a certain degree of statistical significance. If that wasn’t accepted, much of our scientific research would be nullified.

          And no, I’m not willing to accept an authoritarian state like Singapore. But again, if this is nothing more than an all-or-nothing debate, then we have completely jettisoned the original vision of this country. The challenge would be to solve problems within the framework of the law.

          Let me ask you, Harry, are you willing to see AK-47s on the streets of our cities? What about Stinger missiles? What differentiates the two from a handgun?

          • Harry Mauron says:

            I’m quite sure “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is intended to be black and white – just down the parchment, they use the word “unreasonable” in the 4A when grey was intended. So, me, Adams amd Jefferson are fine with you carrying a Stinger and an AK-47, as long as I can have one too.

            And thanks for admitting that there’s no proof that government supression of gun ownership causes less violence. away guns

            • Of course, I made no such admission, and your snide comment demonstrates a lack of understanding of the scientific process and data analysis. But thanks for asserting that you would rather have the freedom of Kabul than the tyranny of Toronto. That’s not my vision for the United States.

          • Harry Mauron says:

            I’ll try again. You used mere correlation to suggest causation.

            Cite a study that shows statistically significant correlation between government suppression of guns and reduced violence.

            P.S. You argue like an adult with a teenager’s intellect. (I argue like a teenager with an adult’s intellect, but it’s purely affected – I have degrees from better schools than you).

  7. There is no need to explain the meaning. The Bill of Rights was clearly and precisely written

    • J DeVoy says:

      The best argument for originalism is that the constitution can be amended. The founders, or at least Jefferson, conceived of having a new one written from time to time, and didn’t imagine the United States being a 50-state time zone-spanning monstrosity. Based on population and geography, we should have a few different countries the size of 1-3 Federal Circuits each with different priorities and laws, with EU-style citizenship, trade reciprocity and military cooperation. Everyone would be happier.

  8. Dan Someone says:

    So does the McDonald ruling also invalidate local ordinances requiring that all citizens own guns? Does the right to keep and bear arms also include a right not to?

  9. Sean F. says:

    Unarmed populations have a hard time starting revolutions.

    • Dan Someone says:

      One could just as easily say that armed populations are more prone to revolutions.

      I think it’s more accurate to say that unarmed populations have a hard time starting *violent* revolutions; it’s not obvious to me that the potential for violent revolution is a public good.

      • Sean F. says:

        Armed government + unarmed populace = bad country, in my opinion.

        Part of the 2nd Amendment is a deterrent to tyranny. If the government ever goes against the will of the people (and tries to strong-arm us into submission) then we can rise up and put it back in its place relatively easily. Protesting through the legal channels of a corrupt system doesn’t work so we need a fall-back plan. The 2A provides that fall-back.

        Violent revolution itself isn’t important, merely the threat of it is.

        • Dan Someone says:

          The threat of violent revolution is as much a reason to worry about an armed citizenry as the threat of tyranny is a reason to worry about an unarmed citizenry.

          Frankly, I am not comforted by the fact that there is a segment of the populace who are willing take up arms against the government on the basis of their personal definition of “tyranny.”

          And the Second Amendment was certainly never intended to supplant the rule of law. Who is to decide if the legal system is “corrupt” or just didn’t deliver the results you wanted?

          • Sean F. says:

            If you can’t fight back, then the government can do whatever it wants to you. Are you okay with that?

            Also, I said it’s a fall-back plan. Revolution is never the primary means to get what you want. It’s much more work than just asking.

  10. Dan Someone says:

    As I suggested, I’m at least as concerned about the people who claim to be arming themselves to “fight back” against the government as I am about the government doing something I don’t like. Whose definition of “tyranny” do we use to determine when to activate this “fall-back plan” of violent revolution?

    I understand that prohibiting citizens from owning guns can be a tool for totalitarian governments to maintain control. But it doesn’t seem to me that the only alternative is unfettered and unregulated gun ownership, and it is a logical fallacy to go from “totalitarian governments prohibit private gun ownership” to “any regulation of gun ownership leads to a totalitarian government.”

  11. Sean F. says:

    Hey, all I said was that unarmed populations have a hard time fighting tyrannical governments. A true statement in my opinion.

    In response to your questions. A revolution that does not reflect the will of the people will not gain support. The government can eliminate them handily and the people will be content. However, if a revolution gains support then the government is not meeting the needs of the people. If the government refuses to change to suit the people, then it is oppressing the people and the people have a right to stand against it.

    I really just wanted to draw attention to the fact that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t only apply to personal self-defense. So many people think that crime prevention/prevalence is the only thing that could be affected by gun legislation.

  12. Dan Someone says:

    OK, I will grant you it is true — I’d say it’s a truism — that unarmed populations have difficulty fighting against tyrannical governments. But what does that add to the discussion? It’s only meaningful if the argument is strictly binary, i.e., if any regulation of gun ownership is the equivalent of “unarmed population.” That’s patently untrue, despite all the slippery-slope wailing and gnashing of teeth of the NRA and its ilk.

    And I will agree that the gun regulation rhetoric seems to be largely focused on the effects of regulation or non-regulation on crime statistics, with short shrift being given to the opposing-tyranny aspect of the Second Amendment (which I suspect was rather the most important reason for the Amendment in the first place). But that’s a two-way street — both sides of the regulation debate focus on crime; even the most rabid pro-gun advocates rarely discuss people protecting themselves from a tyrannical government. And the ones who do focus on that are, to my mind, as worrisome as the hypothetical tyranny they claim to be worried about.

    • I find it interesting that there is so much talk of tyranny in recent months. Talk which is divorced from reality. Where was the Right when the PATRIOT Act was passed? What about Jose Padilla? Warrantless wiretapping? A real danger to the country is blind allegiance to arbitrary authorities. Besides, look at the actual process of violent revolution. It isn’t the common man who rises up against an authoritarian power, it’s an equally powerful, organized militia. The common man is going to sit by and let things unfold (like he did with the situations listed above.)

      • J DeVoy says:

        That’s your cognitive dissonance speaking. Liberals were deranged with hatred for bush all day, every day, for eight years. They just didn’t care about guns and a well-regulated militia, but it’s disingenuous to argue that the concern over tyranny is only recent. At least acknowledge your biases. The shoe is merely on the other foot, as the “tyranny” meme is about a decade old.

        • Dan Someone says:

          “Liberals were deranged with hatred for bush all day, every day, for eight years.”

          Whose biases are showing here, exactly?

        • But that’s exactly the point. People not part of the right-wing noise machine were upset at Bush for spying on Americans, imprisoning citizens without warrant, issuing National Security Letters. To me, that seems much more characteristic of tyranny than the regulation of guns. A regulation, I might add, that is squarely within the boundaries of the current Supreme Court.

          I agree with you that the meme is a little over a decade old, but in my estimation that is recent. It began during the right-wing’s rabid protestations of the Clinton administration. So, it appears that during Democratic administrations the Right screams about revolution. In Republican administrations the Left screams about authoritarian policies.

          Finally, it is hyperbolic to say that the Left was deranged with hatred for eight years. There are plenty of examples of Democrats enabling Bush’s policies, much to the dismay of those on the Left. There is much less homogeneity on the Left than you experience on the Right.

  13. Dan Someone says:

    Yeah, I am disputing it. I’m a liberal, and I was not “deranged with Bush hatred” for even one day, let alone “all day, every day for eight years.” My opposition to Bush policies was entirely rational. I considered him a mediocre intellect at best, who had risen far above his level of competence, but “hate”? No. I had (and still have) far more contempt for the Republican Party, which spent eight years doing everything in its power to keep the American populace in a state of abject, irrational worst-case fear, apparently solely to enhance and maintain the personal power and fortunes of a small subset of its most powerful members.

    Were there liberals who hated Bush to the point of irrationality? Almost certainly. Just as there are conservatives today who have an almost 100% analogous hatred of Obama. Should I assume that all conservatives are deranged with Obama hatred on the basis of Orly Taitz?

  14. Dan Someone says:

    Also, during the 8 years of the Bush Administration, there was plenty of irrational hatred to go around at the extremes on both sides. Would you imagine an American citizen would be called a “traitor” or “treasonous” for dissenting from the government’s policies? Or for just not clapping at a State of the Union speech?


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