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McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) Case Brief

Top DWI and Criminal Defense Lawyers Wrote a Case Brief for McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010)

This case brief on McDonald v. City of Chicago has been meticulously crafted by a team of top criminal defense lawyers, designed to serve as a vital resource for law students. Drawing on their extensive experience and profound legal knowledge, these legal experts have distilled the complexities of this landmark case into a comprehensive and accessible format. Aimed at enhancing the educational journey of future legal professionals, this brief provides a deep dive into the case’s critical aspects, ensuring law students are well-equipped to understand and apply its principles in their studies and future careers.

Second Amendment Rights - Right to Bear Arms.  Explained by DWI Guys Texas, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and San Marcos Criminal Defense Attorneys and DWI Attorneys.


The plaintiffs, Otis McDonald, and several other Chicago residents, challenged the city of Chicago’s handgun ban, arguing that it violated their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The city’s ordinance essentially banned the registration of most handguns, thereby prohibiting their possession by almost all private citizens. This case was decided in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which held that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home, but was limited to the federal enclave of Washington, D.C.

Trial Court

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois upheld the city’s handgun ban, and the decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which held that the Second Amendment did not apply to the states.  This decision was the Supreme Court decision on the case and was published at 561 U.S. 742 (2010).


The main issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated by the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, thus making it applicable to the states.


The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense is fully applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 


The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, held that the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental to the American scheme of ordered liberty and system of justice. The Court reasoned that the Heller decision confirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Since rights that are fundamental and deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition are appropriately incorporated into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Second Amendment right, the Court concluded, is such a fundamental right and thus must be incorporated and applied to the states.


The principal dissent, authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, argued that the Court’s decision was an unprecedented expansion of the Second Amendment, ignoring the complexities of incorporating rights against the states. Justice Breyer also wrote a dissenting opinion, in which he argued that the framers of the Constitution did not intend for the Second Amendment to be an absolute barrier to state or municipal gun control laws. Breyer’s dissent focused on the lack of historical evidence that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment intended to incorporate the Second Amendment rights to the states and on the public safety concerns that might justify certain forms of gun control. 

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