McDonald v. Chicago


May a state or local government ban possession of handguns in light of the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms?


The 2008 Supreme Court case Heller v. District of Columbia ruled that Washington D.C. gun control laws that effectively banned the possession of handguns violated an individual’s Second Amendment right to self-defense. Petitioners, Otis McDonald, et al. (“McDonald”), challenge the constitutionality of Respondent’s, City of Chicago’s (“Chicago”), gun control laws, arguing that they are similar to Heller’s. After Heller, the federal government cannot prohibit the possession of handguns in the home. This case raises the question of whether the same restriction applies to state governments. McDonald argues that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right that states should not be able to infringe. Chicago argues that states should be able to tailor firearm regulation to local conditions. The outcome of this case will affect the ability of states to regulate the possession of handguns in their jurisdictions and could have far-reaching effects on long-held conceptions of federalism.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated as against the States by the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges or Immunities or Due Process Clauses.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” U.S. Const. Amend. II. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct.

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Additional Resources 

Associated Press, Mark Sherman: Ban Handguns? Supreme Court Taking A New Look (Sept. 30, 2009)

CNN, Bill Mears: Justices Take On Potentially Landmark Gun Rights Cases (Sept. 30, 2009)

New York Times, Adam Liptak: Justices Will Weigh Challenges to Gun Laws, N.Y. Times (Sept. 30, 2009)

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Fourteenth Amendment


The Fourteenth Amendment contains a number of important concepts, most famously state action, privileges & immunities, citizenship, due process, and equal protection—all of which are contained in Section One.  However, the Fourteenth Amendment contains four other sections.  Section Two deals with the apportionment of representatives to Congress.  Section Three forbids a


Civil Procedure


Broadly speaking, civil procedure consists of the rules by which courts conduct civil trials.