Supreme Court rules for gun owners

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By Joseph Picard | June 29, 2010 10:34 AM EST

Citizens of Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois, have the right to possess handguns, according to a 5-4 decision today by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The case, McDonald v. Chicago, was brought by several residents of Chicago and Oak Park, with the National Rifle Association filing with the Oak Park residents. Both municipalities had laws on the books banning the possession of handguns. As the high court noted, the municipal laws effe ctively prohibited all residents, with few exceptions, from owning guns.

The municipalities argued that their laws were not superseded by thye second Amendment right to bear arms. But the high court disagreed.

As Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, pointed out, the Supreme Court has already ruled that a citizen has the right to bear arms for self-protection.

"Chicago enacted its handgun ban to protect its residents 'from the loss of property and injury or death from firearms.'"  Alito wrote.

" The Chicago petitioners and their amici, however, argue that the handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. Chicago Police Department statistics, we are told, reveal that the City's handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban was enacted and that Chicago residents now face one of the highest murder rates in the country," Alito said.

The decision did not specifically invalidate the municipal law, but it may weaken towns' attempts to limit handgun possession in the future. Municipalities may also look for ways to structure their ordinances to control gun ownership, a possibility that was addressed by the NRA.

"The NRA will work to ensure this constitutional victory is not transformed into a practical defeat by activist judges, defiant city councils, or cynical politicians who seek to pervert, reverse, or nullify the Supreme Court's McDonald decision through Byzantine labyrinths of restrictions and regulations that render the Second Amendment inaccessible, unaffordable, or otherwise impossible to experience in a practical, reasonable way," said National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre in a release on the decision.

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