A US Supreme Court ruling today extending the reach of the constitutional right to bear arms will likely have little effect on gun control laws in Massachusetts, according to the founder of a gun violence prevention group.
John E. Rosenthal, chairman of Stop Handgun Violence, said the 5-4 ruling in a case involving handgun bans in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill., would probably have "little or no impact" in Massachusetts because there are no comparable bans here.
Massachusetts has for years had bans on military-style assault weapons and on cheap, crudely made handguns known as "Saturday Night Specials," Rosenthal said, but those prohibitions are likely to be considered "reasonable restrictions."
"We don't have an outright ban on handguns," said Rosenthal, a gun owner. "We only have an outright ban on 19 specifically defined military-style assault weapons...and Saturday night specials," he said.
Still, the ruling does conflict with a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that said the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms did not apply to states and therefore Massachusetts had the power to regulate gun ownership.
SJC Justice Ralph Gants, writing for the unanimous court at the time, said that the Second Amendment imposed no limits on the state's ability to regulate the possession of firearms and ammunition.
"These cases are the law of the land until the Supreme Court decides otherwise, and we are therefore bound by them," he wrote.
Today's Supreme Court decision did not explicitly strike down the Chicago area laws, ordering a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. But it left little doubt that they would eventually fall.
The outright bans in Illinois appeared to be the last blanket prohibitions in the United States, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
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