Supreme Court Gun Decision Won't Affect NYC

New York City gun restrictions should remain unchanged

By Jillian Scharr
|  Monday, Jun 28, 2010  |  Updated 3:16 PM EDT
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Supreme Court Gun Decision Won't Affect NYC

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The Supreme Court's decision that states cannot ban citizens from possessing firearms will likely not affect New York City, officials and experts said.

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that the city of Chicago's handgun ban was unconstitutional -- a big victory for supporters of gun rights.  But New York City imposes gun restrictions, which the decision, McDonald v City of Chicago, IL,  supports.

 The Court’s decision today shows "we can work to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists while at the same time respecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement.  "I will continue to collaborate with mayors across the country to pursue common-sense, constitutional approaches to protecting public safety.”

Jackie Hilly, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, told NBCNewYork she's pleased with the decision. 

"I think it affirms New York law," Hilly said. "All the other amendments have reasonable restrictions on them. So I actually really like the Heller decision and the McDonald decision because they put the Second Amendment in the context of all the other amendments...people from the gun lobby like to promote the idea that you have an absolute or god-given right to possess a gun.  That's clearly not true; your right can be restricted."

The McDonald decision follows a 2008 case, District of Columbia v Heller,  in which the Supreme Court declared that a handgun ban in Washington D.C. was also unconstitutional. 

Because Washington D.C. is under federal and not state jurisdiction, it was immediately clear whether state laws could restrict the right to bear arms as outlined in the Second Amendment. 

In its decision today the Supreme Court pointed to the Fourteenth Amendment, which states: "no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."

The Fourteenth Amendment, signed into law in 1869, ended a long-standing debate over the superiority of federal or state law, which was one of the causes of the Civil War.  Confederate states had declared that state laws should be equal to or supersede federal law. 

The Fourteenth Amendment nullified southern states' post-Civil War laws that restricted African Americans' civil liberties, declaring that state law could not limit or contradict federally-declared rights and privileges. 

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