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After Supreme Court ruling, will gun-control laws be under siege?

A Supreme Court decision Monday threw doubt on a Chicago handgun ban. The ruling could lead to a spate of legal challenges against gun-control laws nationwide.

A Supreme Court ruling Monday linked to a Chicago handgun ban echoed a similar one two years ago, when gun-rights protesters crowded the steps of the Supreme Court (pictured here) to learn that the high court had struck down a handgun ban in Washington. Chicago may now revise its gun-control laws as Washington did.

Tim Sloan/AFP/Newscom/File

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Gun-rights advocates say that a US Supreme Court ruling today will embolden them to challenge gun-control laws in cities across the country.

The ruling says that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to every jurisdiction in the country – throwing doubt on a Chicago law that bans handguns in the home.

But lessons from Washington, which had a similar law declared unconstitutional in 2008, suggest that if tough gun-control laws are rewritten carefully, they can survive constitutional scrutiny.

IN PICTURES: The debate over gun rights

In both the Chicago and Washington cases, the Supreme Court rulings focused on the right to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense. But the rulings also made it clear that the court would not stand in the way of reasonable local gun laws outside the home.

After their gun ban was struck down, Washington lawmakers adopted tougher requirements for anyone seeking a gun license, including a four-hour class on firearm safety and passing an exam. It also enacted an assault-weapons ban and required registration of all firearms in the home.

These narrower gun laws have been consistently upheld despite numerous attempts to overturn them.

What next for Chicago?

In all likelihood, Chicago will follow Washington by introducing legislation that increases the restrictions on gun ownership – including some of the same restrictions put in place by Washington. In a press conference Monday, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said that the city’s legal counsel was currently redrafting the handgun ordinance “in a reasonable and responsible way to protect Second Amendment rights and protect Chicagoans from gun violence.”


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