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SCOTUS Signals It May Overturn City's Handgun Ban

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Mar 2, 2010 7:40PM

The official ruling won't come down for months, but based on the comments of justices during today's hearing, it seems the Supreme Court of the United States may have the necessary majority to overturn the City's 28-year-old handgun ban. According to David Savage's report for the LA Times, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy made comments favoring the Second Amendment and the 2008 case overturning Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban (in which all four voted to overturn); Savage also notes Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been a staunch Second Amendment supporter and voted with the majority in the D.C. case, would likely favor overturning this ban as well.

Roberts all but forecast the court would issue an opinion that avoids deciding the harder questions about whether guns can be carried in public as well as kept at home. "We haven't said anything about the content of the 2nd Amendment," Roberts said at one point. He added that the justices need not rule on whether there is a right to carry a "concealed" weapon.

A lawyer for Chicago argued that there is a long American tradition of permitting states and cities to set gun regulations. For 220 years, gun restrictions "have been a state and local decision," said attorney James A. Feldman. Cities should be permitted to set "reasonable regulations of firearms," he added, noting that Chicagoans are allowed to have rifles and shotguns in their homes.

A suggestion from Justice John Paul Stevens of altering the handgun ban to allow citizens to bear arms within the confines of their private homes was dismissed by other justices as well as lawyers representing the NRA who called such a suggestion a "watered-down version" of the Second Amendment.