Otis McDonald and Diane Latiker share much in common as residents of Chicago’s South Side. Longtime community activists, they both have seen the good and bad their neighborhoods have to offer.

They are each fighting for change, especially to stem the growing murder rates among African-American and Hispanic youths, who are dying at the hands of one another.

Their solutions to the problem put them at odds, however; and their struggles — part of larger crisis striking cities nationwide — will be the backdrop for one of the biggest cases to come before the Supreme Court in years.
At issue is one the justices have been timid over the decades at confronting: Just how far does the Second Amendment give citizens the right to protect themselves?

The court will ultimately decide two fundamental questions: Do strict state and local gun control laws violate the constitutional “right to keep and bear arms”? And can an individual’s right to own a weapon extend beyond federal jurisdiction?

The basic questions have remained largely unanswered and give the conservative majority on the high court another chance to allow Americans expanded rights to own weapons. The amendment states: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The specific case deals with Chicago’s longstanding ban on handguns. Latiker supports the law; McDonald is fighting it in court.

Gun control is one of those hot-button social issues that stirs energies on competing sides. The ruling’s impact will be felt across the country as local communities wrestle with whether banning the cheapest, most commonly available firearm will reduce violent crime or leave honest citizens vulnerable.

Source: Bill Mears at

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