The New Battleground for Gun Rights; High Court Decision Expands Second Amendment

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The Supreme Court yesterday gunned down the Windy City's attempt to undermine the Second Amendment rights of its residents. In the closely divided McDonald v. Chicago decision, the justices expanded on 2008's District of Columbia v. Heller ruling by making it clear that the right of the people to keep and bear arms applies in all 50 states, not just federal enclaves like the District. Law-abiding gun owners can find a lot to celebrate in this decision.

Nonetheless, the court left a number of unsettled issues that will form the new battleground for gun rights for years to come. The decision recognized that certain ownership restrictions might be permissible without specifying acceptable limits. With the First Amendment, another incorporated right, the government decided that certain types of political speech should be limited through campaign-finance regulations. In the name of protecting safety, we can expect bureaucrats to likewise concoct schemes to evade the Second Amendment protections.

The District, for example, rewrote its rules in the wake of Heller so that they would be only slightly less restrictive. In effect, guns are still banned in the nation's capital for all but the most persistent and wealthy individuals. The city requires two tests and four trips to the police station and payment of up to $550 before one can get a handgun permit. A whole class of handguns - semiautomatics with magazines - is still forbidden. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley promises to follow the District's lead and make gun ownership even more costly in his town.

It is worth noting that Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined in the dissent penned by Justice Stephen G. …