McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010: Summary & Decision

Instructor: Janell Blanco
McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010 was a landmark case for gun rights in the City of Chicago. This lesson will discuss the case as well as the decision the Supreme Court made in this case.

McDonald v. City of Chicago

Can you imagine your home being surrounded by crime and feeling helpless? You wake up each morning and find trash in your yard, and you know you did not put it there. Additionally, your home is broken into at least five times. This is exactly what happened to Otis McDonald, in 2008.

Otis McDonald

McDonald was a 76-year-old, homeowner and resident of Chicago. He found himself in a difficult situation where he was not able to protect his family, his property, or his own self because of the City of Chicago's 1982 regulation that stated they would no longer register new handguns to residents of the city.

It was in the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010 (filed in 2008 and ruled upon in 2010) McDonald filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago because he felt the city acted unconstitutionally by banning handgun registrations. The lawsuit also named the City of Oak Park. Oak Park had banned handguns within the city and McDonald's three neighbors, who filed the lawsuit with him, lived in Oak Park. The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms, and McDonald felt that Chicago and Oak Park took that right away when they put handgun laws into place.

We will now take a look at how McDonald tried to fight the City of Chicago through legal means so he could register his handgun with the city.

Case Summary

For hunting purposes, McDonald did own shotguns, but the 76-year-old felt they were not an adequate weapon to protect his home.

McDonald, in his defense, cited a ruling that occurred in 2008 about gun control laws. Previously in 2008, the Supreme Court had ruled in the case of Heller v. District of Columbia that laws which banned possession of handguns were a direct violation of the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court also ruled that individuals have a right to self-defense and stated in their decision that the law can have restrictions, such as making it unlawful for a felon to possess a handgun.

McDonald filed his lawsuit with the district court in his area exactly one day after the ruling was made in Heller v. District of Columbia. The district court dismissed the case. McDonald then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals also dismissed the case. McDonald was not giving up though. He felt this was a case for the Supreme Court since it is a violation of his fundamental rights.

McDonald not only felt that the cities' laws on handguns violated his Second Amendment because he did not have an adequate way to defend himself, his home, or his family. Not only did he feel they violated his Second Amendment but he also felt the laws violated his Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, McDonald felt that the Privileges and Immunity Clause that says the citizens are entitled to all privileges meant it was within his rights to own a handgun. McDonald felt this was not a district or appellate decision because he felt his fundamental rights were being infringed upon by the government.

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