New Battle in the Gun War Heads to the Supreme Court

Supreme Court will hear case of residents who want Chicago's handgun ban gone.

ByABC News
October 4, 2009, 4:24 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2009— -- It was an image that shocked the country.

A 16-year-old honor student in Chicago being beaten to death by teenagers. Derrion Albert, a high school sophomore was caught in a mob fight as he was walking to a bus stop. Despite not being part of either of the gangs, he was punched, kicked and struck by a board.

And just a week and a half after the fatal incident, as residents demand safer streets, Chicago faces a new battle -- this time over guns.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will begin its 2009-2010 term, and on the docket is the case of Chicago residents who are challenging the constitutionality of the city's hand gun laws, which ban residents within the city limits from having guns, even in their own homes.

Otis McDonald, who lives in the same neighborhood where Albert was killed, says his own life has been threatened by local thugs and he says his home has been broken into.

"When I'm at home, I can't even protect myself there. This house here has been broken into at least three times only a week ago," the retired maintenance engineer told ABC News. "It's the times that we live in, and long ago, when the guns were taken away from us in '82, '83, it wasn't so bad back then, but times have changed. ... Everybody is in danger now, in these days."

McDonald says having a handgun in his home would make him feel safer and secure. And he's asking the Supreme Court to let him get that gun, by overturning Chicago's quarter-century ban on handguns.

"Rightfully, we are due the arm to protect ourselves in our homes, and there's nothing wrong with us having that," he argued. "I know what my rights are, and I have an inherited right to own a gun in my own home."

If a recent court decision is any sign, McDonald could have his way. In a historic ruling in June 2008, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote that the handgun ban in Washington, D.C., was unconstitutional and a violation of an individual's Second Amendment right to bear arms. But the case left open the question of how the ruling would apply to state and city laws.