This case blows me away

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Where I’m at: Chicago (t-minus 24 days)
What I’m doing: Nothing! Glorious nothing! (since the Bar exam is over)
Why I’m posting: Must-know info!
Well, today’s the day. I never thought this day would come. While I never hope for anyone’s demise, I was hoping that somehow one of the 5 “conservative” justices on the Supreme Court would have left the bench at this point. (Yep, you guessed it, this is a rant about a case)

Today is the day because today is the day that the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago. That case is the one where Chicago’s handgun ban will be tested. Now, the reason I’m so gloom and doom is because 2 years ago, the Court voted 5-4 to overturn D.C.’s handgun ban. That ruling didn’t technically make other handgun bans illegal because D.C. is federal land. Today’s case, though, unmistakeably applies the Second Amendment to the 14th Amendment.

The issue is this: the Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution) applies only to the federal government. However, the post-Civil War amendments (specifically the 14th Amendment) applied the Bill of Rights to the states (the so-called “incorporation doctrine”) in most cases. It wasn’t an across-the-board change, so each Bill of Rights amendment has had to be separately tested. Most have been applied to states (e.g. 1st Amendment rights of speech/religion/etc.), but some have not (e.g. the right to a trial by jury). Some simply have not been tested (2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms), and some have been assumed (8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment).

So here we are. Standing over a precipice with the same Court (except for a substitution on the “liberal” side) that overturned D.C.’s handgun ban 2 years ago. In a couple of months, gun bans may be illegal everywhere. As you can probably tell, I’m not very thrilled by the prospect. I appreciate the desire to have piece of mind and safety, but I’m also startled by the reality that handguns – especially in places like Chicago – make areas more dangerous than safer. I’ll always remember how uneasy I felt walking into one of my best friend’s homes in high school where he’d show me all of his guns. Maybe I was supposed to feel safe, but what I felt was scared.

Share your thoughts, please, if you’d like.
Who said it: Michael Gartner, former president of NBC News
Why it’s relevant: discussing the Brady Bill back in 1992 on restrictions to gun ownership

The quote: “There is no reason for anyone in this country, anyone except a police officer or a military person, to buy, to own, to have, to use a handgun. I used to think handguns could be controlled by laws about registration, by laws requiring waiting periods for purchasers, by laws making sellers check out the past of buyers. I now think the only way to control handgun use in this country is to prohibit the guns. And the only way to do that is to change the Constitution.”


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