On John Paul Stevens' final day on the bench as a member of the Supreme Court, he and his fellow justices handed down four rulings, including a major decision on gun restrictions. By a 5-to-4 vote in McDonald vs. Chicago, the court held that the right to own a firearm for self-defense is "fundamental from an American perspective [and] applies equally to the federal government and the states," effectively curbing municipalities from enacting their own stronger laws. What will the ruling mean for gun ownership in the United States?
David Ignatius of the Washington Post says the decision could lead to chaos in the streets. "My biggest worry with Monday's Supreme Court decision is that by ruling, in effect, that every American can apply for a gun license, the justices will make gun ownership much more pervasive in a society that already has too many guns." He added: "By the way, the Roberts court might also want to take a look at the 'well-regulated' reference in the second amendment. That might at least slow the rush to the gun stores."
Doug Mataconis of the right-of-center Outside the Beltway blog thinks the McDonald decision will start the process of clairfying what our gun laws actually can and cannot do. "The Court did not rule today that Chicago’s gun ban was unconstitutional. Instead, it remanded the case back to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for a determination on that issue," adding that "it will be left to other cases and others courts to decide what Heller and McDonald mean for less restrictive gun control laws, or registration schemes that exist mostly to make it difficult to own firearms."
Newsweek's Stuart Taylor believes that most gun laws won't be affected by the decision. "No statewide gun-control law appears to be in immediate jeopardy, because nothing in Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion appeared to undercut the court’s assertions in a 2008 decision striking down a similarly strict handgun ban in the District of Columbia that a wide range of less stringent gun-control laws could be upheld as reasonable public-safety measures."
Barbara O'Brien of the left-of-center Mahablog wonders if supporters of gun rights are misunderstanding the implications of the McDonald decision. "It's true that when the poll questions are framed in terms of gun rights rather than gun control, the numbers are somewhat more favorable to the NRA position. But I think this is the result of people reacting to the word "rights" - we're always in favor of "rights" - without thinking through the logical consequences. In other words, there are people who favor gun rights in the abstract, but they also want gun control in their neighborhoods."