Sunset of Chicago's Handgun Ban: Shots on Lawrence Avenue, then SCOTUS nixes Chicago ban, plus a Detroit Chicago drive-by analysis

Back now from the US Social Forum in Detroit; stayed at friends' in Chicago and my sister's in Madison.

On the way out of Detroit Saturday, I took Michigan Avenue west into Dearborn before cutting down to I-94. On the way out of Chicago Sunday, I took Lawrence Avenue out to I-90. Michigan and Lawrence were loosely comparable, I suppose, similar medium-level urban development in a long stretch, major urban arteries but not central ones.

Michigan Ave. is partly dormant and depopulated, but as you approach Dearborn it is less vacant, with lots of fried food spots and liquor stores. And yes, some kind of stripclub unbelievably called Starvin' Marvin's. Both Lawrence and Michigan Aves. have more Arabic-marked stores as you move west, actually. But Chicago is packed with people, while Detroit is dark, sparse and quiet.

You could see a giant place like Chicago becoming Detroit, at least, easier to visualize if you've been there.

Another commonality: the gunshots. Not too many, but a few. As luck would have it, I cruised Lawrence on the last night of Chicago's handgun ban. There they were, the echoes of gunshots from handguns, their presence no more prevented in the literal sunset of the handgun ban than by a wizard's spell. Chicago had handguns to spare that night, bullets popping. Detroit had a few, but not like Chicago.

Evidently the right to have a handgun is "fundamental" according to the Supreme Court -- it fundamentally couldn't be changed despite 30 years of trying in the Windy City. Violence between armed actors in the city never really got curtailed, and the innocent bystanders never got saved.

Meanwhile the suddenly tyrannical Canadian government attacked peaceful demonstrators at the Toronto G20, one wave after another. And Canada has even more guns per capita than the United States -- this weekend, a suddenly higher degree of government tyranny than usual, yet far lower levels of gun violence overall.

It was a moment for Libertarians to be sure: the fail of the law, that last Chicago night only the outlaws had handguns. The biggest Leviathan and even the Daley Machine couldn't get a win on this one, but they got to play off the tensions it created. How many deals and schemes got made in the shadows, under the flag of the handgun ban? How many dollars changed hands? And to whom?

Why does everyone want so many guns in the first place?! Fear the neighbor, fear the government, count on a phallic totem to save you. Or else get yrself some fresh venison. Demilitarize America -- Milk not Guns!


Details: McDonald v. City of Chicago - ScotusWiki

Analysis by Lyle Denniston: SCOTUSblog » Analysis: Gun rights go national

Five members of the Supreme Court on Monday assured state, county and city officials not to worry: the new decision protecting a “right to keep and bear arms” against government action at any level — local, state or national — “does not imperil every law regulating firearms.” But the Court majority did not have any assurances for judges at every level, that they will be spared the duty of ruling on many forms of gun regulation that a legislature, county board, or city council has chosen to enact. And the Court gave those judges very little guidance, in its ruling in McDonald, et al., v. Chicago, on how they are to analyze those laws.

The Court did not even rule on the constitutionality of the one law that was at issue — a handgun ban in Chicago — nor did it tell the Seventh Circuit Court what constitutional standard to apply in judging that law when the case returns there. That particular law’s fate, like that of so many others around the nation, now must await a new round in court.

What the Court’s assurance aimed to do was to forecast that opponents of gun control will not win every time. But it had no authority to prevent many such battles from arising in the lower courts. It is fair to speculate that, after decades of frustration that the Second Amendment had not limited state and local power to pass gun laws, there is a pent-up demand to use it now that it is newly available as a high-powered legal weapon against such legislation. Judges, in short, are about to learn what legislators have long known: given the passionate support that exists for gun rights, virtually any attempt to curb them produces a pitched battle. The dueling of lobbyists will now be replicated by dueling attorneys.

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in the Court’s main opinion, did make one thing unmistakably clear to lower court judges: the right to have a gun for self-defense in the home is a “fundamental” constitutional right.   That one-word label carries enormous import. Ordinarily, if a right is deemed to be fundamental, any law that seeks to limit it will be judged by the stiffest constitutional test there is: it must satisfy “strict scrutiny,” meaning that it will be struck down if the government’s need for it is not “compelling” and if the approach it takes is not the narrowest possible way to get at the problem. Some laws can survive “strict scrutiny,” but not a great many do.

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