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On June 2 the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld bans on the possession of handguns in Chicago and Oak Park in a case entitled National Rifle Association (NRA) v City of Chicago, et al. The decision will likely have implications in the NRA’s lawsuit challenging Evanston’s gun ordinance.

The NRA filed its lawsuits against Chicago and Oak Park challenging their gun bans on June 27, 2008, the day after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in District of Columbia v Heller. On the same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit against Evanston seeking to knock out Evanston’s ordinance that banned handguns.

In Heller, the United States Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess handguns. The Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s laws (which were federal laws) banning the possession of firearms. The Court, however, did not decide whether its holding applied to state or municipal laws.

In a unanimous decision, the Seventh Circuit held in the NRA v Chicago case that the Supreme Court’s holding in Heller did not apply to state or municipal laws banning the possession of handguns. The Seventh Circuit held it was bound to adhere to decisions rendered by the United States Supreme Court in the late 1800s which held that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states or municipalities. “The Supreme Court has rebuffed requests to apply the Second Amendment to the states,” the Seventh Circuit’s decision says. The Seventh Circuit added that it was “hard to predict” whether the Supreme Court would reverse its earlier decisions.

Attorneys for the NRA say they will ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The NRA’s Case Against Evanston

After the NRA filed suit, Evanston, unlike Chicago and Oak Park, amended its gun ordinance to permit residents to possess handguns in the city if they are kept solely at the owner’s residence for “self-protection.”


 In an amended complaint, the NRA alleges that Evanston’s gun ordinance, as amended, is still defective because it does not permit a gun owner to transport a gun to his or her home, and does not permit a gun to be possessed for purposes other than self-defense in the home.

 On April 27, Judge Marvin Aspen denied Evanston’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint. He also ruled that Evanston did not adequately raise the issue whether the Second Amendment applies to Evanston, and he thus declined to rule on that issue. On April 30, however, Judge Aspen stayed the NRA’s case against Evanston until the Seventh Circuit ruled on the NRA’s appeals in the Chicago and Oak Park cases.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...