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McDonald v City of Chicago [2010]

McDonald v City of Chicago [2010] 561 US 742 is a landmark Supreme Court case clarifying that the Second Amendment's protection of an individual's right to keep and bear arms applies to state and local governments through incorporation via the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause.


This decision extended the reach of Second Amendment protections beyond federal jurisdiction and established a precedent that affected gun rights in regard to state and local governments across the United States. This case was significant because it clarified and expanded upon the Second Amendment's applicability to state and local gun control laws. It also led to the reevaluation of various state and local gun control regulations to ensure compliance with the Second Amendment.


In 2008, the Supreme Court issued a pivotal decision in District of Columbia v Heller, which held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess firearms for self-defence within the home, separate from any militia service. However, the Heller decision specifically addressed the District of Columbia, a federal jurisdiction, leaving unanswered questions about the applicability of the Second Amendment to state and local governments.


Otis McDonald, a resident of Chicago, Illinois, was one of several plaintiffs who challenged Chicago's restrictive handgun ban. Chicago, like the District of Columbia, had imposed strict regulations on handgun ownership, effectively prohibiting most residents from possessing handguns for self-defence.


McDonald's lawsuit argued that Chicago's handgun ban violated his Second Amendment rights, and it sought to extend the protections established in Heller to state and local jurisdictions. The case ultimately made its way to the US Supreme Court.


In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of McDonald and the other plaintiffs. The Court held that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms for self-defence, as articulated in Heller, applies to state and local governments through the incorporation doctrine.


The incorporation doctrine, established through the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, ensures that fundamental rights recognised at the federal level are also applicable to state and local governments. In the McDonald decision, the Court concluded that the Second Amendment right to bear arms for self-defence is one of these fundamental rights and, therefore, must also be respected by state and local governments.


As a result of the McDonald decision, Chicago's handgun ban was declared unconstitutional, and it established a precedent that extended the Second Amendment's protections against infringement by state and local governments across the United States. This decision has had a significant impact on gun control laws and litigation at the state and local levels, leading to numerous legal challenges to various firearms regulations.

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