Saturday, March 28, 2009

2nd Amendment Incorporation

In my last post I outline my thoughts on how the Heller decision would affect existing gun laws, especially California gun laws. One might think that changes in these laws due to Heller are imminent. Nothing could be further form the truth.

California could pass a law requiring all firearms be turned into local police or sheriffs departments, and such a law would be totally constitutional at the state and federal level. How is this possible? Because the Bill of Rights does not automatically apply to the states, despite what people commonly think, and because California does not recognize and right to keep and bear arms in the state constitution.

An amendment is made to apply to the states, and thus to state laws via a process known as incorporation. I won't go into details here, but suffice to that the 2nd Amendment has yet to go through this process, but there are three cases through which incorporation might occur, which all concerned about gun rights should monitor:

McDonald v. Chicago
Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority
Nordyke v. King

Note: Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority was settled by the parties, so incorporation will not occur under the scope of that case. Most observers feel that McDonald v. Chicago is the more powerful case since Chicago has a handgun ban similar to the one struck down by the SCOTUS in Heller, but Nordyke v. King is currently awaiting a decision before the Ninth Circuit, so incorporation may occur through that case sooner.

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