A New Age in Gun Laws & Second Amendment Jurisprudence – The McDonald Case

Inferior courts are not bound to follow dicta propounded by courts that stand in higher authority. Even though one may hope that a clearly defined issue before a court will result in straightforward precedent, it is usually difficult to discern dicta from binding case law. The path that any given superior court takes in reaching a decision is quite important and the path is arguably binding law, as it can be seen as necessary for the reasoning or the analytical framework of the precedent.

In McDonald v. Chicago, the Court discussed Heller and how it recognized the right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense purposes. McDonald goes further. SCOTUS affirmed the notion that the Second Amendment encompasses a fundamental individual right and that the Second Amendment, as a consequence, binds the Federal, State and Local governments. However, the Court reiterated that even fundamental rights have inherent limitations.

“We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as ‘prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,’ ‘laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.’” McDonald.

The excerpt above may or may not be obiter dictum, but the Court used the opportunity to flesh out this fundamental right. The underlying issue was the constitutional meaning of the Second Amendment. It is wholly within the purview of SCOTUS to define the constitutional limits of the Second Amendment, and this excerpt above may prove to be a binding guide for future Second Amendment litigation. Without saying anything more of substance, the Court reversed the inferior court, acting in accordance with the legal analysis it put forth in McDonald.

Finding that the Second Amendment is a fundamental right, SCOTUS has essentially guaranteed that judicial review of statutory law will be undertaken with ‘Strict Scrutiny’ in accordance with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Additionally:

As elucidated in the excerpt, the following categories of laws/statutes (in no particular order of importance) likely fall within the framework of permissible limitations on the Second Amendment, so long as they are ‘reasonable’ and comport with the ‘Strict Scrutiny’ standard of review for statutory law infringing on fundamental rights:

  1. Prohibitions on felons and mentally ill individuals;
  2. Carrying of Firearms in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, and potentially other places; and,
  3. Regulation of Commercial sale of firearms.

DISCLAIMER: UNTIL YOU CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY, DO NOT RELY ON ANY PURPORTED LEGAL ADVICE HEREIN SUGGESTED OR PROVIDED BY THIS POSTING. CALL US TODAY IF YOU REQUIRE LEGAL REPRESENTATION.