LIANE HANSEN, host:
And it's a new day for gun rights. Five cities in suburbs are facing lawsuits challenging their bans on handguns. No sooner had the U.S. Supreme Court issues its landmark decision this past week than gun-rights lawyers swung into action. NPR's Libby Lewis reports on how the legal landscape for gun laws may be redrawn.
LIBBY LEWIS: The village of Morton Grove, Illinois is just north of Chicago. It has one of the oldest handgun bans in the nation on its books. It's the target of one of the five lawsuits filed by the National Rifle Association, or the NRA. Village Manager Joe Wade says Morton Grove isn't going to wait for a court battle. It's going to act.
Mr. JOE WADE (Village Manager, Morton Grove, Illinois): Supreme Court decision, that's the law of the land and the village of Morton Grove has every intention to comply with this. So we are going to propose an ordinance that would illuminate the possession of handgun ban within the village.
LEWIS: The attitude is different in Oak Park, next to Chicago's West Side. It's another target of NRA lawyers.
Mr. TOM BARWIN (Village Manager, Oak Park, Illinois): It's just completely befuddling that our Supreme Court would be in alliance with the gangbangers.
LEWIS: Tom Barwin is the village manager there. Barwin used to be a police officer near Detroit. He said he's hoping Oak Park pushes back. But that might not be easy.
Mr. BARWIN: You know, the emails have already started to fly. Like, you know, I think one we received within an hour and said, you know, I'm going out to get mine now. Any problem with that?
LEWIS: Barwin said he expects the village to meet with other communities with a similar attitude to figure out where to go next.
Where the NRA is going next is Chicago. It has a handgun ban nearly identical to the law struck down by the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. The NRA lawsuit in San Francisco challenges a local ordinance there that bars possession of handguns by public housing residents. So how far will the legal challenges go? Stephen Holbrook, an outside counsel for the NRA, believes it won't be a free-for-all.
Mr. STEPHEN HOLBROOK (Outside Counsel, NRA): Proponents of the D.C. ban before the decision acted like the sky was going to fall and - but you'd have to be smoking something funny to think that most gun-control laws would fall because of this decision. And most laws will stay on the books, and that's because they're regulations and not outright bans.
LEWIS: At the same time, Holbrook says there is fertile ground for future challenges, whether by lawsuit or other means. For instance, he said Washington, D.C. officials suggested after the ruling that residents wouldn't be able to legally own semi-automatic handguns. That's not acceptable, Holbrook said.
Mr. HOLBROOK: But the Supreme Court decision refers to handguns generally, and not to just revolvers.
LEWIS: That means it applies to semi-automatic handguns, as well, Holbrook said.
Mr. HOLBROOK: There's probably more them in society now than revolvers.
LEWIS: And he said if Washington, D.C. tries to use its zoning powers to keep handgun dealers out, that won't work, either.
Mr. HOLBROOK: It would be like if they banned books in D.C. and then the court told them they couldn't do that, so they banned book stores.
LEWIS: Still, Holbrook does think many gun regulations will stand. But David Kairys thinks differently. He teaches law at Temple University. He's a gun control advocate and he's an expert on gun laws. He says the Supreme Court ruling doesn't provide a principle or a theory to help judges or lawmakers figure out what's constitutional and what's not.
Prof. DAVID KAIRYS (Law, Temple University): So what it does is it throws into question almost every regulation of guns, if I was thinking as an NRA lawyer.
LEWIS: Kairys isn't an NRA lawyer. But if he were, he says he would challenge just about every regulation with two words: self defense. Libby Lewis, NPR News, Washington.
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