Supreme Court Ruling Ammunition Gun Activists Need To Challenge Local Gun Laws When the Supreme Court ruled Monday that most Americans can have a handgun in their homes for self-defense, it opened the door for gun rights groups to take on local and state laws. Some states, like California and New Jersey, have some of the country's toughest laws.
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Gun Activists To Challenge Local Gun Laws

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Gun Activists To Challenge Local Gun Laws


Gun Activists To Challenge Local Gun Laws

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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.

NPR's Cheryl Corley reports on what gun laws may be challenged next.

CHERYL CORLEY: The most influential names in the fight over gun laws in recent days have been Heller and McDonald. Those were the lead plaintiffs in two key lawsuits leading to the Supreme Court ruling. By a five-to-four 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.

Ms. MARA GEORGES (Corporation Counsel, City of Chicago): We started out under the premise with one gun per person.

CORLEY: Mara Georges, Chicago's top lawyer, 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.

Professor DOUGLAS BERMAN (Criminal Law, Ohio State University): Oh, absolutely. 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.

CORLEY: Restrict the number of guns a person can buy, for instance, or where they take them.

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'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.

Mr. DAVE WORKMAN (Senior Editor, Gun Week): You just can't go around denying people their ability to defend themselves. 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.

CORLEY: Officials in North Carolina's 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.

Pro gun rights attorney Don Kilmer is challenging the requirements for carrying a gun in public.

Mr. DON KILMER (Lawyer): We're not challenging California's authority to regulate the carrying of guns in public. We're just saying that California has to be evenhanded in its standard 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.

CORLEY: New Jersey, with its waiting periods and mandatory background checks, also has some of the country's toughest gun laws.

Scott Bach, the president of the New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club, puts it another way.

Mr. SCOTT BACH (President, Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs): New Jersey gun laws are insane.

CORLEY: The association has already filed a lawsuit against the New Jersey law, which limits most gun buyers to one gun a month. Bach says with all the background checks and information gun buyers must give, the laws are targeting the wrong people.

Mr. BACH: It's ludicrous to think that any criminals go through this process to acquire their handguns. Only honest people do. And so the bill, you know, the handgun rationing law only impacts honest citizens.

CORLEY: 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 Center to Prevent Gun Violence says gun control activists are ready.

Ms. CAROLINE BREWER (Associate Director, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence): We're going to be in court fighting 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.

CORLEY: 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.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.


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