Past Event

When The Supreme Court Gives You Lemons…

On June 28, the Supreme Court delivered a piercing blow to gun control advocates with a 5-4 ruling against Chicago’s firearm ban. The decision in McDonald vs. City of Chicago upheld that the “right to bear arms” was indeed an individual liberty not to be infringed upon by any state or municipality. This decision leaves many to wonder: who are the beneficiaries of this ruling and who stands to lose?

Logically, gun-rights activist are thrilled with the ruling. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said, “Now all Americans can experience the Second Amendment.”  However, it’s not a complete victory for gun rights, since individuals may be able to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, but only within the privacy of their own homes.

The ruling has some believing that debate over gun-related issues is now off the political table. What is the future of gun rights advocacy? Why continue fighting for something that is already won? These questions particularly affect Democrats like Representatives Tom Perriello of Virginia and Travis Childers of Mississippi, who are both facing touch races in November. Without having to defend Republican attacks over gun rights, some predict that Democrats should be able to win these regions with relative ease. So though gun control supporters lost in the Supreme Court, they feel the decision may still work in favor of Democrats in the long run.

Others don’t think the potential long term benefits outweigh the immediacy for gun control. “Some Americans are eventually going to die, because this case will lead to the overturning of strict gun control laws that are proven to safe lives,” said Paul Butler, a former U.S. Federal prosecutor, on the ruling.

What does this all mean for the City of Chicago? Its 28 year-old gun ban has done little to curb violence; in fact, a recent weekend saw a startling 50 casualties. A number of Chicagoans view the lift as encouragement for more gun purchases, which can only exacerbate the violence. In a post-ruling editorial, the Chicago Sun-Times noted, “Studies have shown that the more guns there are in the home, the more likely accidental shootings by (and of) children, and domestic arguments that end with somebody being shot dead.”

On the other hand, perhaps the ruling, though condemned by Mayor Daley, will yield new, more effective innovations in gun control. Chicago city officials promise to make it harder for individuals to gain access to handguns by potentially including regulations on licensing and sales as well as training requirements. They are, as the saying goes, making lemonade from lemons.

What are your reactions to McDonald vs. City of Chicago? Do you believe the ruling yields any positives for Democrats and/or Chicago? Why or why not? How do you think this ruling will affect the already staggering levels of violence many Chicagoans face? In reaching a decision, the Supreme Court justices engaged in debate over the historical context in which the constitution was drafted, as well as its framers’ intent: should we utilize history as a template for enacting contemporary laws? Or do you believe history to be irrelevant? If you were a Supreme Court Justice, how would you rule on this case? A opinion reads, “Unfortunately, the media intelligentsia tend to favor gun control laws, so a lot of hard facts about the futility…of such laws, never reach the public.” What do you make of this statement?

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