Appeals court upholds Chicago's handgun ban

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CHICAGO -- A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld ordinances barring the ownership of handguns in most cases in Chicago and suburban Oak Park, finding a Supreme Court ruling in a District of Columbia case doesn't apply.

The three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the National Rifle Association's appeal of a judge's ruling in December that upheld the Chicago and Oak Park ordinances.

Last year the Supreme Court struck down a District of Columbia handgun ban, ruling that the Second Amendment entitles people to keep handguns at home for self protection. The appeals panel agreed with U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur's decision that the high court's ruling dealt with a federal gun ban and the Second Amendment could not be used to overturn local ordinances.

Chicago officials immediately praised the ruling.

"We are pleased with this decision because it means that we can continue to enforce our gun ordinance," said city law department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle.

Hoyle said she understood the NRA intended to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. NRA attorney William Howard did not immediately return a voicemail.

Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote that "the Constitution establishes a federal republic where local differences are to be cherished as elements of liberty rather than extirpated in order to produce a single, nationally applicable rule."

"Federalism is an older and more deeply rooted tradition than is a right to carry any particular kind of weapon," Easterbrook wrote.

A panel of the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that included Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor reached a similar conclusion about the reach of the Second Amendment in a case from New York over a state law banning the possession of chuka sticks -- a weapon composed of two sticks joined at the ends by a rope or chain.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, however, ruled that the Second Amendment does apply to the states. The court is considering whether to take another look at a dispute between Alameda County and gun show promoters.

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