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June 29, 2010

Re:    US Supreme Court Case on Gun Ownership

Dear Mayor:

The US Supreme Court recently decided McDonald v. City of Chicago, an important 2nd Amendment case that may have an impact on local restrictions of gun ownership.  Chicago passed an ordinance over 20 years ago that prohibited ownership of handguns.  Several residents sued, under the theory that the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to state and local governments as well as the federal government.  The Supreme Court agreed, striking down the Chicago ordinance as too restrictive on the right to own a firearm.

However, the Court reiterated its language from a previous holding that the right to keep and bear arms is not “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”  The Court went on to state that this holding does not overturn longstanding regulatory measures such 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.”

In his opinion, Justice Alito declined to delineate just how far longstanding regulatory measures by state and local governments may go before they are unconstitutional.  We advise local elected officials to discuss any restrictions they may have on the sale or possession of firearms with their municipal attorney.  If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact staff attorney Matthew Weng at 609-692-3481 ext. 137 or  You can find the opinion at

Very truly yours,


William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director



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