The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that state and local governments can no longer restrict an individual’s right to own a firearm. However, the Court’s decision and supporting arguments left room for lawmakers to impose some restrictions on ownership and prevent easy access to guns while still protecting this basic right. In handing down its decision, the Court focused its attention on a case that challenged a 28-year-old Chicago ban on handguns. The decision is an extension of the Court’s 2008 ruling that the Second Amendment was not intended just for militias and did, in fact, extend to individuals.
While the ruling doesn’t guarantee cities will modify their gun ban laws, it does open the door for residents to legally challenge those laws and win. Officials in these cities, where there are high rates of gun crime, are upset and fear the Court’s decision will interfere with their ability to craft gun laws that reduce crime. That fear, however, may be unfounded. The Court made certain to note that the right to own a firearm is not the same as the right to possess and carry a firearm in any manner for whatever purpose. To that end, the Court does support restricting firearm ownership for felons and the mentally ill and encourages state and local efforts to close loopholes that allow individuals to purchase guns without a background check.