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Constitutional Law Keyed to Barnett
McDonald v. City of Chicago
Citation:561 U.S. 742 (2010)
Chicago’s firearm laws provided that “[n]o person shall . . . possess . . . any firearm unless such person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for such firearm.” The Code also prohibited registration of most handguns, operating essentially as a handgun ban. Petitioners sued, arguing that the law left them without means to defend themselves. Chicago Police Department statistics showed that the handgun murder rate had increased since the ban was enacted, and the murder rate was one of the highest in the nation.
Petitioners argued that the laws at issue were unconstitutional for two reasons. First, that the right to bear arms was among the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” and that the narrow interpretation of the Privileges or Immunities Clause from the Slaughter-House Cases (1873) should be rejected. Second, that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The city argued that the Second Amendment and Bill of Rights in general only applied to states if the right in question was an “indispensable attribute of any ‘civilized’ legal system.” They argued that because certain civilized countries “ban or strictly regulate the private possession of handguns,” Due Process does not protect the right of Chicago residents to possess handguns.
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