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Gura and the SAF want to take the lead in shaping post-McDonald Second Amendment law. They have already filed three new lawsuits challenging guns laws since the McDonald decision came down. The first is against North Carolina, charging that its ban on gun or ammunition possession outside the home during a declared state of emergency violates the Second Amendment. The second is against Westchester County, New York, arguing that it should be enjoined from its manner of enforcing a state law that allows carry licenses to be denied merely because applicants cannot show “good cause.” A third suit was filed against state officials in Maryland for requiring a man to show he was in specific danger before he could get a carry permit. As SAF’s Gottlieb said in a press release, “Our civil rights, including the right to keep and bear arms, should not be subject to the whims of a local government or its employees, just because they don’t think someone ‘needs’ a carry permit.”
In addition, two pre-McDonald California suits by Gura and the SAF, which were held up pending the McDonald decision, should now move forward. One of those suits, Peña v. Cid, challenges California’s list of officially approved handgun types and models. The other, Sykes v. McGinness, challenges the methods used by Sacramento and Yolo counties to issue carry permits. Since the Heller decision, Gura has already succeeded in prompting the District of Columbia to eliminate its list of legal weapons, which was modeled on California’s, and he is also pursuing a challenge to D.C.’s carry ban.
Chicago, meanwhile, is providing further grist for lawsuits. After McDonald, various city officials announced their determination to keep gun rules as restrictive as possible, with one of the city’s attorneys telling the Chicago Tribune that Chicago is “trying to figure out how far we can go and survive a [legal] challenge, because we know it will be challenged.” In July the Chicago City Council unanimously approved a new set of laws prohibiting all gun sales, empowering a city official to unilaterally ban gun models he deems “unsafe,” barring residents under 21 from legally owning guns, requiring gun permit applicants to undergo firearms training (yet simultaneously banning firing ranges), allowing no more than one gun per owner to be assembled and operable at a time, and banning the carrying of guns anywhere outside the home, including porches and garages. Four Chicagoans and the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers have challenged those provisions in federal court.
David and Colleen Lawson, two of the McDonald plaintiffs, attended Chicago City Council meetings where the new gun laws were discussed. “All the experts on the council’s panel [were] against having a handgun in the home,” Colleen Lawson says. “Most aldermen were speaking as if their constituents did not have enough brains or ability to regulate our own emotions.” One alderman openly encouraged his constituents to disrupt a pro-gun rally. The Lawsons recall being the only people who spoke in support of gun rights during the public comment period.
As of this writing, Otis McDonald is still embroiled in Chicago’s new registration process, still awaiting official permission to have his legally purchased .45 in his home for self defense. Fifty-two people were shot in Chicago the weekend before the McDonald decision came down; all the airy talk of clauses and scrutiny and incorporation aside, Chicago is full of hundreds of thousands of people like Otis McDonald, surrounded by others who do or might mean them or their property harm, and are as of this writing still being burdened in exercising their right to defend themselves in the most effective way.
Otis McDonald is not thrilled with the stubborn way Chicago has reacted to the decision in his namesake case. He’s particularly disturbed by the $100 permit fee citizens will have to pay the city every three years for every gun they legally own. “Everybody is strapped for money in these times,” he says. “Many of us are on fixed income, senior citizens—do we have to be out there vulnerable just because we might not have the money to pay to exercise a right that we inherited? That is unfair, and I believe that somewhere, someway that is going to change.”