(CN) – The 7th Circuit upheld handgun bans in Chicago and nearby Oak Park, citing the Supreme Court’s repeated assertions that the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government.
Gun owners and advocates urged the three-judge panel to overturn the bans based on the Supreme Court’s decision in D.C. v. Heller, which upheld an individual’s right to keep handguns at home for protection.
The challenges were dismissed on the grounds that Heller dealt with a federal law, while Chicago and Oak Park are state municipalities.
“The Supreme Court has rebuffed requests to apply the Second Amendment to states,” Judge Easterbrook explained.
Nevertheless, the National Rifle Association asked the Chicago-based federal appeals court to follow a 9th Circuit ruling issued in 2009, which concluded that Supreme Court precedents could be bypassed as outdated.
But Easterbrook said lower courts must follow precedent, even if later opinions undermined their rationale. It’s up to the Supreme Court to overturn its own rulings.
“If a court of appeals could disregard a decision of the Supreme Court by identifying, and accepting, one or another contention not expressly addressed by the Justices, the Court’s decisions could be circumvented with ease,” Easterbrook wrote.
“They would bind only judges too dim-witted to come up with a novel argument.”
The panel affirmed dismissal of the challenges to the handgun bans.
“Federalism is an older and more deeply rooted tradition than is a right to carry any particular kind of weapon,” Easterbrook concluded. “How arguments of this kind will affect proposals to ‘incorporate’ the Second Amendment are for the Justices rather than a court of appeals.”