Publication Date
November 22, 2009
David B. Kopel
McDonald v. Chicago, Second Amendment, incorporation, Fourteenth Amendment, handguns

Guns save lives. Criminological data, studies of criminals, and natural experiments show that American citizens frequently use firearms, especially handguns, for lawful self-defense. Because defensive arms are common in American homes, occupied homes in the U.S. are burglarized at a much lower rate than in other nations.

Ending handgun prohibition does not lead to disaster. This is shown in the District of Columbia post-Heller, and in South Carolina in 1965 after the 1902 ban on handgun sales was lifted.

Chicago’s 1982 handgun ban was immediately followed by a very sharp increase in crime relative to other large American cities. In Chicago, as in many other cities, 911 response is often too slow to save crime victims.

Police officers in Chicago are murdered at a rate 79% above the national average, and at a higher rate than in most other large cities. Chicago’s handgun prohibition is so ineffective that it has not even reduced the percentage of murders perpetrated with handguns - a percentage that has risen notably since the ban was imposed.

Judicial protection of the right to keep and bear arms would not interfere with police anti-crime tactics such as New York City’s aggressive frisks of suspected illegal gun carriers.

In eleven cases, the Supreme Court has overturned convictions because they violated the defendant’s right of armed self-defense. The cases provide further evidence that the right is deeply rooted in our history and traditions, and is fundamental to our scheme of justice.

Handguns are often the superior choice for home defense, and the liberty to choose the right arm for defending the family belongs to every individual family.
Recommended Citation
Kopel, David B. and Kopel, David B., Amicus Brief in McDonald v. Chicago: On Behalf of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, et al (November 23, 2009). The Supreme Court of the United States, No. 08-1521, U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-32, Available at SSRN: or

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