M. Spencer Green/AP
Mark Diaz, manager of Schrank's Smoke 'n Gun shop, displayed several handguns for sale at the store last year in Waukegan, Ill., north of Chicago. When the Supreme Court ruled Monday that most Americans can have a handgun in their homes for self-defense, it left Chicago officials scrambling to put together a new handgun law.
Mark Diaz, manager of Schrank's Smoke 'n Gun shop, displayed several handguns for sale at the store last year in Waukegan, Ill., north of Chicago. When the Supreme Court ruled Monday that most Americans can have a handgun in their homes for self-defense, it left Chicago officials scrambling to put together a new handgun law. M. Spencer Green/AP
One lawsuit can lead to plenty more — and that's exactly what gun rights and gun control activists expect in the aftermath of this week's Supreme Court ruling on the right to bear arms.
The most influential names in the fight over gun laws in recent days have been Heller and McDonald, the lead plaintiffs in two key lawsuits leading to the Supreme Court ruling.
By a 5-4 vote, justices ruled that most Americans can have a handgun in their homes for self-defense. It left Chicago officials scrambling to put together a new handgun law.
"We started out under the premise of one gun per person," says Mara Georges, Chicago's top lawyer. She says the city's new plan allows a person to register one handgun per month, but still bans gun shops.
Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman says efforts to repeal gun regulations will rise, and there are hundreds of laws on the books.
"There's many that are nuanced in ways that don't completely prohibit gun rights or gun ownership, but that limit or seek to restrict," he says.
That means restrict the number of guns a person can buy, for instance, or where they can take them.
Where To Draw The Line?
The Supreme Court says the Second Amendment doesn't bar reasonable regulations, but as one gun activist put it, one person's reasonableness is another person's tyranny.
So the question is, where to draw the line? The Second Amendment Foundation was quick to file a lawsuit against a North Carolina gun law the same day the Supreme Court ruled in the Chicago case.
Dave Workman, a spokesman for the group, says North Carolina's law makes it illegal for anyone to carry a gun off their property during a declared state of emergency.
Semi-automatic handguns and revolvers are seen on top of a glass display case at John Jovino Co., in New York.
Semi-automatic handguns and revolvers are seen on top of a glass display case at John Jovino Co., in New York. Seth Wenig/AP
"You just can't go around denying people their ability to defend themselves," he says. "If they have to go to and from certain areas to pick up emergency supplies — that's no reason to suspend somebody's civil rights."
Officials in the North Carolina attorney general's office didn't comment because they hadn't seen the lawsuit yet.
The country's most stringent gun regulations are in California, and a host of gun laws there are targets — from the state's assault weapons ban to local laws. Gun rights attorney Don Kilmer is challenging the requirements for carrying a gun in public.
"We're not challenging California's authority to regulate the carrying of guns in public," he says. "We're just saying the state of California has to be evenhanded and have standards for issuing these permits. It can't be up to the discretion of the local sheriff who you either voted for or didn't vote for in the last election."
New Jersey, with its waiting periods and mandatory background checks, also has some of the country's toughest gun laws.
"New Jersey gun laws are insane," says Scott Bach, president of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs.
The association has already filed a lawsuit against the New Jersey law, which limits most gun buyers to one gun a month. Bach says that with all the background checks and information gun buyers must give, the laws are targeting the wrong people.
"It's ludicrous to think that any criminals go through this process to acquire their handguns. Only honest people do. So the handgun rationing law only impacts honest citizens," he says.
'We're Going To Fight Them'
But as gun rights groups gear up for what they believe may be an opportune time to take on local and state laws, Caroline Brewer with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says gun control activists are ready.
"We're going to be in court to fight them as they come back again and again to try to challenge what the court has already affirmed for us are very sensible and reasonable regulations on owning guns," she says.
It may take years for those court battles to make clear what the Supreme Court has left to the lower courts to decide — the practical impact of the Second Amendment on a myriad of gun regulations.