Top of page

Article United States: Federal Appeals Court Holds States May Restrict Handgun Ownership

(June 26, 2009) The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago has ruled that the right to have handguns in one's home, recently recognized by the Supreme Court, does not cover state or municipal laws regulating handguns.

In June 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), that the Constitution's Second Amendment protects a right to own handguns in one's home against restrictions imposed under the authority of the federal government. Afterwards, suits were brought against local municipalities in Illinois that had strict gun laws. These complaints were dismissed on the grounds that the Supreme Court had already held that the Second Amendment did not apply to the states (or municipal governments whose power is derived from state authority).

The plaintiffs appealed, contending that prior decisions regarding the application of the Second Amendment to the states were outdated or wrongly decided. They alternatively argued that the court should apply the Second Amendment against the states, using the precedent that the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause “selectively incorporates” certain rights that can be enforced against the states.

The Seventh Circuit rejected these arguments. The court said that lower courts must follow Supreme Court precedents, even those for which the rationale has since been undermined. On selective incorporation, the court said that deciding whether the right to possess handguns in one's home is the type of right “deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition” and thus subject to the doctrine was a matter for the Supreme Court to decide.

One day after the Seventh Circuit issued its opinion, the plaintiff, the National Rifle Association, filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court asking it to consider the selective incorporation issue. (National Rifle Association of America, Inc. v. Chicago, No. 08-4241 (7th Cir. June 2, 2009), available at http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/fdocs/docs.fwx?caseno=08-4241&submit=sho
wdkt
; Petition for Writ of Certiorari, National Rifle Association of America, Inc. v. Chicago, No. 08-1497 (June 3, 2009), available at http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/static/managed-content/uploads/2009/06/certpetitionchic
ago.pdf
.)

About this Item

Title

  • United States: Federal Appeals Court Holds States May Restrict Handgun Ownership

Online Format

  • web page

Dates

Topic

Jurisdiction

Article Author

Rights & Access

Publications of the Library of Congress are works of the United States Government as defined in the United States Code 17 U.S.C. §105 and therefore are not subject to copyright and are free to use and reuse.  The Library of Congress has no objection to the international use and reuse of Library U.S. Government works on loc.gov. These works are also available for worldwide use and reuse under CC0 1.0 Universal. 

More about Copyright and other Restrictions.

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Credit Line: Law Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Cannan, John. United States: Federal Appeals Court Holds States May Restrict Handgun Ownership. 2009. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2009-06-26/united-states-federal-appeals-court-holds-states-may-restrict-handgun-ownership/.

APA citation style:

Cannan, J. (2009) United States: Federal Appeals Court Holds States May Restrict Handgun Ownership. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2009-06-26/united-states-federal-appeals-court-holds-states-may-restrict-handgun-ownership/.

MLA citation style:

Cannan, John. United States: Federal Appeals Court Holds States May Restrict Handgun Ownership. 2009. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2009-06-26/united-states-federal-appeals-court-holds-states-may-restrict-handgun-ownership/>.