Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bloomberg News On the Chicago Gun Case: Doing It Wrong

The suburban "Daily Herald" has a piece put out by Bloomberg News service covering the 7th Circuit's decision to punt the McDonald v. Chicago case up to the Supreme Court. Shockingly, they missed a few things--starting with the first sentence.
A Chicago ordinance banning handguns and automatic weapons within city limits was upheld by a U.S. Court of Appeals panel, which rejected a challenge by the National Rifle Association.
Actually, nobody is challenging a ban on automatic weapons in Chicago. I don't know if Chicago even has such a law, to tell you the truth. Illinois does, which suffices for Chicago. What is being challenged is a total ban on handguns combined with ridiculously onerous restrictions on shotguns and rifles. Later, the unnamed reporter says that Chicago doesn't allow "concealed weapons, semi-automatic or automatic firearms." Maybe this is just an indication of how bizarrely Byzantine Chicago gun laws are, but that's a little off. Obviously, carrying a firearm (or pepper spray, or stun gun, or baton, or most knives) is illegal in Chicago whether it's concealed or not. And obviously, automatic weapons are illegal in Illinois, which means that if you own one here, you're also not complying with the federal red tape, which means you're looking at 10 years in the federal pen if you've got an automatic weapon in Chicago. Semi-automatic weapons are not any more banned than anything else, which is to say that if your semi-automatic weapon is a shotgun or a rifle, and it's not on the List of the Forbidden as promulgated by Cook County, and you manage to get through the registration process, you can keep it in Chicago. So if you've got an M1 Garand or a Winchester 1100 you want to register, have at it.
You know, the more I detail what it takes to own a gun in Chicago, the less I blame the reporter for just saying all these things are banned. He had a word count to hit, after all, and I'm this far into my rambling without even addressing the actual case.

The reporting on the case itself was actually not too bad, although it would have been nice to get a little depth rather than spinning this as a clear defeat of the pro-gun side. If you read it carefully, you can see between the lines that the 7th Circuit looked for a procedural way to rule against us and found it; they didn't rule on the 2nd or incorporation, they ruled that they weren't going to take the responsibility. Fair enough. What did bother me a little bit was the emphasis on the NRA's role in all this. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have the NRA involved, but would it kill them to mention the people who actually sued before the NRA? The people who have standing because they live in Chicago and are denied their constitutional right to keep and bear arms? Both my readers know these people, but I'm going to mention them anyway, because it irks me.
  • Otis McDonald
  • Adam Orlov
  • Colleen Lawson
  • David Lawson
  • Illinois State Rifle Association
  • Second Amendment Foundation
Again, that's taking nothing away from the NRA or their lead attorney, Stephen Halbrook. But the people above, and their attorneys Alan Gura and David Sigale, have done the yeoman's work on this case and deserve some credit for what they're doing. The two cases have been combined, but although both sets of plaintiffs are asking the court to recognize that the 2nd Amendment is incorporated via the 14th, they offer very different reasoning. It's entirely possible that one line of reasoning could be rejected, but the other accepted and the case thus saved for all the plaintiffs . . . . so it wouldn't be very fair to ignore most of the plaintiffs because one is a more familiar name nationally.

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