Some Thoughts on McDonald v. Chicago and the Fourteenth Amendment

by Tim Dunkin Like many other conservatives, I cheered the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday in which it overturned the bases upon which Chicago’s ordinance banning the ownership of handguns were predicated, and by extension, upheld the principle that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. The Supreme Court, following upon its earlier Heller decision, has firmly ensconced the 2nd amendment into the panoply of American liberties. Finally, it seems, the right to the individual, personal ownership and use of weapons has taken its rightful place alongside our freedoms of speech, religion, and the press as an indubitably constitutional liberty affirmed by that document.

One question that seems to trouble many conservatives and libertarians is whether this decision, which essentially requires that the states respect the 2nd amendment (which is, as we know, an amendment to the federal Constitution), is just another step in the consolidation of power from the states and to the federal government. One example of this concern is provided by Vox Day, who writes for World Net Daily, and who also has his own blog,

“On the other, I am opposed to increased federalization even in a good cause. Although since the States haven't been sovereign since the political debate was settled by mass slaughter, I suppose it's a bit late to worry about that now. And since the federal government isn't about to stop ruling over the state and local governments with an iron hand, this is a better decision than the most likely alternative.”

The problem with this argument is that affirming the 2nd amendment as a liberty which the states cannot infringe does not amount to federalization. Indeed, it is completely inline with what the Constitution itself says, as well as with the intentions of the men who crafted that Constitution. The essential crux of several of the arguments forwarded by the majority in the McDonald decision centered about the 14th amendment, the first section of which reads, More: