Archive for the 'McDonald v. City of Chicago' Category

The Great Gun Control War of the 20th Century — And its Lessons for Gun Laws Today

Posted by on May 31 2012 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Fourteenth Amendment, guns, History, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Politics, Popular Constitutionalism, Registration, Right to carry, supreme court

This is the subject of my article in a forthcoming symposium issue of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. The article details the political, cultural, social, and legal battles over gun control from the 1920s to the early 21st century. Here’s the abstract:

A movement to ban handguns began in the 1920s in the Northeast, led by the conservative business establishment. In response, the National Rifle Association began to get involved in politics, and was able to defeat handgun prohibition. Gun control and gun rights became the subjects of intense political, social, and cultural battles for much of the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st.

Often, the battles were a clash of absolutes: One side contended that there was absolutely no right to arms, that defensive gun ownership must be prohibited, and that gun ownership for sporting purposes could be, at most, allowed as a very limited privilege. Another side asserted that the right to arms was absolute, and that any gun control laws were infringements of that right.

By the time that Heller and McDonald came to the Supreme Court, the battles had mostly been resolved; the Supreme Court did not break new ground, but instead reinforced what had become the American consensus: the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, especially for self-defense, is a fundamental individual right. That right, however, is not absolute. There are some gun control laws which do not violate the right, particularly laws which aim to keep guns out of the hands of people who have proven themselves to be dangerous.

In the post-Heller world, as in the post-Brown v. Board world, a key role of the courts will be to enforce federal constitutional rights against some local or state jurisdictions whose extreme laws make them outliers from the national consensus.

Also recently published in SSRN is a very good draft article by David Hardy, analyzing the four opinions in McDonald v. Chicago. As he persuasively shows, the arguments by Justice Stevens and Breyer against enforcing the Right to Keep and Bear Arms against the states would, if taken seriously, cast serious doubt on the legitimacy of enforcing against the states almost everything else in the Bill of Rights.

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New textbook: Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights and Policy

Posted by on May 15 2012 | Casebooks, guns, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Militia, Non-firearms Arms, Registration, Right to carry

The first law school textbook on the Second Amendment is now available from Aspen Publishers. The co-author are Nick Johnson (Fordham), Michael O’Shea (Oklahoma City), George Mocsary (Connecticut), and me. Here’s the publisher’s page for the textbook, from which professors can request a free review copy. The book is also available for civilian purchase from Amazon.

We also have our own website for the book. There, you can read the detailed Table of Contents, and the Preface. The website is in an early stage of development; eventually, it will include detailed research guides and topic suggestions for students who are writing seminar papers. If you a professor and one of your students writes a seminar paper which makes a genuine contribution to knowledge about a topic, we invite you to send the us paper for publication on the website.

The textbook will have an accompanying Teacher’s Manual. We are currently finishing that up, and aim to have it available before the Fourth of July. (It’s free for professors who get a review copy, and forbidden for anyone else.)

Besides the 11 chapters in 1,008 pages of the printed book, there will also be four more on-line only chapters, available to purchasers of the printed book. These chapters will be: 12, Social science about firearms policy. 13, International law. 14, Comparative law. 15, A detailed explanation of firearms and their function. (Chapter 1 of the printed book provides a brief explanation of firearms and their function; the on-line chapter will go into much greater detail [e.g., what is a lever action gun?], and will have illustrations and photos.)

Finally, Firearms Law is the first law school textbook to be the subject of a podcast series. The published podcasts are: Chapter 3, The Colonies and the Revolution. Chapter 2, Antecedents of the Second Amendment: From Confucius to the British Whigs. Chapter 1, An introduction to firearms laws and firearms function. As the summer progresses, we will be adding more, and some chapters may have more than one. Thus far, all the podcasts are interviews of me, but as we make our way through the book, other co-authors will also appear in the podcasts.

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Crime plummets in Chicago and DC after handguns re-legalized

Posted by on Oct 04 2011 | guns, McDonald v. City of Chicago

So explains John Lott, in an opinion column for Foxnews.com. Not a surprising result. The McDonald v. Chicago amicus brief I wrote for the International Law Enforcements Educators & Trainers Association (and other law enforcement organizations, and criminologists) showed that after Chicago enacted its handgun ban, its violent crime rate rose sharply. Pre-ban, Chicago had a violent crime rate 1.12 times greater than the violent crime rate of the 24 other largest cities. (That is, Chicago’s violent crime rate was 12% higher than that of the 24 other cities.) Post-ban, Chicago’s crime rate soared immediately, and remained 67% higher than the other large cities. The possibility that Chicago’s sudden and long-standing deterioration compared to other large cities is less than 1 in 100,000. Details are presented at pages 17-22 of the brief, and the appendices.

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Congressional hearing on interstate handgun carry reciprocity

Posted by on Sep 14 2011 | congress, federalism, Fourteenth Amendment, guns, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Right to carry

On Tuesday I testified before the U.S. House subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, regarding H.R. 822, which would set up a national system of interstate reciprocity for concealed handgun carry permits. My 24-page written testimony is here. The video of the subcommittee hearing is about and hour and 45 minutes. Nearly all members of the 21-member attended the hearing, and used their opportunity to ask 5 minutes worth of questions. Most of the questions posed to George Mason Law’s Prof. Joyce Malcolm, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and me, were quite thoughtful. Some congressional hearings are just a form of kabuki theater, but in Tuesday’s hearing, Representatives of both parties, and on both sides of the gun issue, seemed to be sincerely trying to learn more. The bill currently has 243 House co-sponsors.

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Cert. Petition in Right to Carry Case

Posted by on Apr 22 2011 | Constitutional Law, guns, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Standing, supreme court

(David Kopel)

Filed earlier this week by Stephen Halbrook, in the case of Williams v. Maryland. In short, Maryland bans all handgun transportation or carry without a permit, and has a permitting process which formally declares that it will deny permits to almost everyone. As the petition explains, “the Maryland State Police, the Maryland Handgun Permit Review Board, and the Maryland courts have consistently interpreted these provisions [state regulations] to require the applicant to document, typically with police reports, that he or she has been the victim of assaults, threats, or robberies, except for applications involving certain occupations.”

Williams was peaceably transporting his handgun from his girlfriend’s home to his own home. He has been convicted, and sentenced to a year in prison. The state’s highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals, rejected Williams’ Second Amendment challenge, because, supposedly, the Heller and McDonald affirmations of a general right to carry handguns (except in “sensitive places”) is mere dicta which the Maryland court will not follow unless a future U.S. Supreme Court cases formally announces “we meant what we already said.”

As Halbrook points out, “When the Framers intended that a provision of the Bill of Rights related to a house, they said so. [3d and 4th amendments.] They did not recognize a limited right to keep and bear arms only in one’s house. Despite this plain textual reference prohibiting infringement on the right to ‘bear arms,’ the Maryland court argued that the right need not be recognized at all because this Court has not decided cases directly on point. ‘But general statements of the law are not inherently incapable of giving fair and clear warning .. . .’ United States v. Lanier, 520 U.S. 259, 271 (1997).2 [note 2:] ‘The easiest cases don’t even arise. There has never been . . . a section 1983 case accusing welfare officials of selling foster children into slavery; it does not follow that if such a case arose, the officials would be immune from damages [or criminal]
liability.’ Id.”

Further, Heller’s right to carry language is not dicta, according to McDonald: “our central holding in Heller: that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” As Halbrook points out, this inescapably “implies a right to bear arms outside the home (even if not quite as ‘notably’ as in the home).”

Williams had not applied for a permit, which would have been futile in light of Maryland’s established policy of permit denials. The Maryland Court of Appeals held the Williams therefore lacked standing to challenge the statute. Halbrook responds:

This is completely unfounded given Petitioner’s criminal conviction. Under this Court’s precedents, it is not a requirement for standing to challenge an allegedly unconstitutional permit requirement that one must apply for the permit and be denied. A long line of cases have invalidated permit requirements to exercise First Amendment rights in which the defendants who were convicted did not apply for permits. One of the more recent cases is Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, 536 U.S. 150, 156 (2002) (invalidating permit requirement even though “Petitioners did not apply fora permit.”).

even if there were some general requirement for Petitioner to submit an application in order to challenge the permit statute, that requirement would be eliminated here under the doctrine of futility. This court has made it clear in various contexts that litigants are not required to perform a futile act. See,
e.g., Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, 533 U.S. 606, 625–26 (2001) (where limitations imposed by wetland regulations were clear, and there was no indication
that kind of use sought by landowner would have been allowed, court did not require submission of “futile applications” with other agencies);

 Eugene Volokh’s analysis of the Maryland ruling is here.


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Amicus brief in Calif. concealed carry case

Posted by on Oct 30 2010 | guns, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Uncategorized

(David Kopel)

Peruta v. San Diego is one of several cases challenging sheriff misapplication of California’s concealed handgun carry licensing statute. The case features Chuck Michel as lead attorney for plaintiffs. The case does not assert that California’s statute requiring a license to carry a concealed handgun for protection is unconstitutional. Rather, the argument is simply that the statute specifies that licenses should be issued to qualified applicants (training, good moral character) who have “good cause.” Pursuant to Heller, lawful self-defense is not only good cause, it is the best possible cause. The case has already survived a motion to dismiss.

Along with Prof. John Eastman, I filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Independence Institute, Law Enforcement Alliance of America, Doctors for Responsible Gun Owners, and the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. The arguments are:

 I. The case can be decided without a standard of review, because near-total prohibition of a constitutional right is never constitutional.
II. A “reasonable” regulation is one that does not eliminate the exercise of a right, but instead is narrowly tailored, is based on a significant government interest, and leaves ample alternatives.
III. The state court cases approvingly cited in Heller expressly affirm the right to carry.
IV. Twentieth century state courts decisions affirm the general right to carry for lawful self-defense.
V. McDonald specifically addresses and prohibits mass deprivation of the right to bear arms.


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My Senate briefing on Kagan and the McDonald Case

Posted by on Aug 05 2010 | Constitutional Law, guns, Kagan Nomination, McDonald v. City of Chicago, PPC

(David Kopel)

It was delivered in late June to the Second Amendment Task Force, a group of Republican Senate aides. (Unfortunately, the Senate’s protocals of partisanship prevent organizations like this from having aides from both parties.) My presentation is here (22 minutes). The presentation by Hans Von Spakovsky, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, is here. And Stephen Halbrook’s presentation is here.


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Catching Up with Dave Kopel

Posted by on Jul 14 2010 | Kagan Nomination, Kopelization, McDonald v. City of Chicago, PPC, Second Amendment, supreme court, U.S. Constitution

If you’re a big Dave Kopel fan like myself, you probably find it difficult following everything the guy is doing. The man is prolific. Between writing a multitude of articles for a variety of different outlets, he’s constantly on the radio, on TV, in Washington DC testifying on something I probably wouldn’t understand, lecturing on Constitutional Law at DU, making an appearance somewhere on something I probably wouldn’t understand, or avoiding the rush of fans that descend on him when he’s in public. He does more in a day than I do in a decade.

Therefore, with a little help from Dave himself, here’s a quick list of stuff Dave’s done recently that most ordinary humans could not do:

Wrote an amicus brief in the McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court case that was cited 3 times in the decision. Wrote a critical article for America’s 1st Freedom explaining the Supreme Court opinions in McDonald. Dave sat down with me for a podcast and a TV show about the crucial McDonald decision.

Here’s an America’s 1st Freedom article on Dave’s book Aiming for Liberty.

Dave flew to Washington DC to provide testimony on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and her Second Amendment views. Here is video of Kopel’s testimony with a couple of followup Q&A from the Senators.

Catch Dave at Liberty on the Rocks Red Rocks this coming Monday the 19th at the Old Chicago in Lakewood.

After you’re done catching up with all that, Dave will have a dozen new things out to read, watch, and listen to, so stay tuned here.  We are so honored to have him here at Independence.  Thanks Dave for all you do!

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Kopel on ‘McDonald’ and Elena Kagan

Posted by on Jul 08 2010 | Idiot Box (TV Show), McDonald v. City of Chicago, PPC, Second Amendment, supreme court

On this week’s Devil’s Advocate, Independence Institute Research director David Kopel joins me to discuss the recent, and hugely significant, U.S. Supreme Court case McDonald v Chicago, and what the decision means for the Second Amendment and gun rights. Dave also discusses his recent testimony at the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nominee hearings. That’s this Friday at 8:30 PM on Colorado Public Television 12, re-broadcast the following Monday at 1:30 PM.

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Suit against the new Chicago anti-gun laws

Posted by on Jul 06 2010 | guns, McDonald v. City of Chicago

(David Kopel)

Available here. See paragraphs 19–28 for description of which parts of Chicago’s legal regime are being challenged. The National Rifle Association is helping with the funding of the case, but is not a party. Lead attorney is Charles Cooper, so it is certain that the presentation of the plaintiffs’ arguments will be outstanding.


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