NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 30, 2010

In a landmark, but not surprising, decision, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday struck down Chicago's ban on private ownership of handguns, saying the Second Amendment applies to states and municipalities as well as the federal government. 

The ruling finalizes the debate over whether individual states, or even individual towns, cities, or municipalities, have the authority to ban possession of firearms, says the 

  • Two years ago the Court struck down a law banning possession of firearms in Washington, D.C.
  • In that opinion for the first time the Court held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applied to a personal right to possess a firearm.
  • Monday's decision was the result of a ban on possession of firearms in Chicago, Ill.  

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) weighed in on the issue, citing a report by the United Nations in 2003 indicating there could be as many as 96 guns per 100 people in the United States.  Another recent report by the Congressional Research Service put the total at 294 million -- 106 million handguns, 105 million rifles, and 83 million shotguns.  According to Sen. Feinstein, this would equate to "more guns than there are adults to handle them." 

Some statistics indicate that the Chicago gun ban had resulted in 1,000 fewer homicides since its enactment in 1983.  However, cites countering numbers indicating that crime rates are sharply lower in states where possession of firearms is legalized and regulated.  Also, the National Center for Policy Analysis in 2000 reported that weapon license holders were less likely than the general public to be arrested for both violent and non-violent offenses. 

The new decision is not expected to affect existing laws regulating the possession of firearms by convicted felons and in restricted locations, such as schools and government buildings, says the Examiner. 

Source: Jack Welch, "Supreme Court expands gun rights,", June 29, 2010. 

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