It may now, and must now be said that after 234 years, our Supreme Court has finally, at long last, made it unequivocal and explicit that our right to keep and bear arms for personal defense is a fundamental, unalienable right protected by the 2nd Amendment and applicable to the States through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The ruling in McDonald v. Chicago is an enormous victory for liberty and security, although a slightly qualified one. Justice Alito, writing for the Court, says:
“In Heller, we held that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense. Unless considerations of stare decisis counsel otherwise, a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects a right that is fundamental from an American perspective applies equally to the Federal Government and the States. We therefore hold that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller.”
This is an unparalleled victory for gun rights! Beyond the immediate effect, because the RKBA is now firmly a fundamental right, ALL REGULATIONS that infringe upon that right are subject to the “strict scrutiny” standard of review, rather than a lesser “rational basis” review. What this means in the practical sense is that many thousands of gun laws may now be challenged to see if they meet this test:
Can the government demonstrate that it has a compelling need to impose the regulation?
Is the regulation narrowly tailored to achieve only the legitimate governmental objective?
Does the regulation represent the least possible intrusion on the fundamental right implicated?
Many gun laws will meet this standard, including keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and insane persons, but many more will not meet this high bar, and that will change the complexion of gun ownership completely in many states, particularly in the East and Midwest, and of course California.
But, a caveat: The Court explicitly recognized that reasonable restrictions are both possible, and in a couple of cases, such as keeping guns out of schools, implicitly desirable. Furthermore, according to the hysterical pronouncements of Mayors Daley and Bloomberg, we can expect repeated attempts to burden gun ownership such as those put in place by the District of Columbia after the Heller decision. Daley is talking about all manner of obstructive bureaucracy and huge insurance policies, among other plots to suborn the will of the People and the dictates of the Court.
But again, the good news is that whatever he tries can now be challenged under federal civil rights laws, and most importantly, actions by state agents that interfere with the RKBA are now CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS that may be prosecuted under 42 USC 1983. This is an enormous boost to gun owners against overzealous cops and legislators.
Hooray for the Constitution! Today is a day to be remembered in our history books!