Case Information: McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010)
At Issue: Challenge to municipal handgun bans under the Second Amendment; question whether the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments. McDonald v. City of Chicago concerns whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to state and local governments. Plaintiffs challenged municipal ordinances in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois that ban the possession of handguns, claiming the ordinances violate an individual right to bear arms under the Amendment. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), the Supreme Court held that there is an individual right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms unconnected to service in a militia, but that decision applies only to the federal government. Both the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the challenges, holding that the Second Amendment does not apply to states or localities. The Seventh Circuit determined that it was bound by a series of Supreme Court cases that uniformly held that the Second Amendment only applies to the federal government. Plaintiffs are petitioning the Supreme Court for a ruling that the Second Amendment is incorporated under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to apply to state and local governments.
Law Center’s Brief: Our brief, joined by numerous local activist organizations and national gun violence prevention groups, supports the cities of Chicago and Oak Park and argues that the Second Amendment does not apply to state and local governments. On June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 ruling that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments in addition to the federal government. In so doing, the Court reversed the Seventh Circuit decision that affirmed the dismissal of Second Amendment challenges to the handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park. For further information, see Understanding McDonald v. City of Chicago.