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Free at Last, Free at Last ... to Carry a Handgun

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Free at Last, Free at Last ... to Carry a Handgun

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In the wake of the news that 26 people were shot over the weekend in Chicago, three of them fatally, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the city’s handgun ban.

The Court cited the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits cities and states from passing laws “which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” That's the same constitutional amendment written to protect African-Americans’ right to vote, own property, and sit on juries. It's now being cited to allow all Americans -- black and white, urban and rural -- to carry a handgun.

That's not sarcasm. Alan Gura, the lawyer for the plaintiff, South Sider Otis McDonald, used exactly that racial equality argument in his plea before the Court: inner-city residents have just as much right to arm themselves as any rural redneck.

“In 1868, our nation made a promise to the McDonald family that they and their descendants would henceforth be American citizens, and with American citizenship came the guarantee enshrined in our Constitution that no State could make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of American citizenship,” Gura told the Court.

This is the second straight nonsense decision on gun rights from the Supreme Court. It was a follow-up to Heller v. District of Columbia, in which five justices used a Ouija board to determine that the 2nd Amendment, which guarantees the right of militias to own guns, actually was meant to apply to individuals as well. Heller invalidated D.C.’s gun laws.

Once the Supreme Court ruled that D.C. couldn’t prevent individuals from owning guns, it followed that no city could do it. But Gura’s 14th Amendment argument was ridiculous, because, unlike the Jim Crow laws he cited, Chicago’s handgun ban applied to all races.

The 14th Amendment’s last big appearance was in Bush v. Gore, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Florida had denied equal protection to all voters by not using the same standard of ballot counting in all counties.

That decision didn’t go over too well in the community the 14th Amendment was designed to help. I’m sure this one won’t, either. 

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