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Powerful Gun Lobby Underscores Supreme Court Victory

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The gun rights lobby, one of the most powerful single-issue lobbies in the nation, won a major battle this morning: The Supreme Court ruled in favor of individual gun rights in the consequential case McDonald vs. City of Chicago. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court largely ruled in favor of gun rights, striking down Chicago's 28-year-old handgun ban as a violation of the Second Amendment's guarantee of an individual's right to bear arms.

Preceding this decision was a powerful federal lobbying effort by gun rights groups. In the first quarter of 2010 alone, gun rights advocates spent nearly $1.3 million lobbying federal lawmakers and officials. This figure is more than 25 times more than the $50,000 that the gun control advocates spent lobbying the federal government.

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The National Rifle Association itself spent $515,000 lobbying the federal government during the first three months of 2010.

And gun rights advocates show no signs of slowing their torrid lobbying and legal efforts.

Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association's chief lobbyist told Politico, that what "the Supreme Court ruled is what we've said all along. Every law-abiding American has a right to a gun regardless of where they live."

"We're going to be in courtrooms making sure these aren't just words on a piece of paper," said Cox, as he promised to work on loosening gun regulations in federal and state legislatures.

They'll likely continue to pad the wallets of federal political candidates, too.

Gun control groups generally give far less in campaign contributions than their pro-gun opponents. Since the beginning of the 2010 election cycle, gun rights groups have dominated the gun control groups in campaign contributions, giving 135 times more in contributions -- about $684,000.

At issue in the Supreme Court case was whether the constitutional "right to bear arms" applies to local gun control ordinances, or only to federal restrictions. Two years earlier, the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia gun ban because of D.C.'s, unique status as a federal city under federal jurisdiction. Today's ruling affirms an individual's right to gun ownership is a restraint on state and local laws as well.

Some gun control groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are not claiming defeat in this case at all. In a statement from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the group contended that the decision "does not prevent our elected representatives from enacting common-sense gun laws to protect our communities from gun violence." The Brady Campaign is the largest gun control lobby in the nation, even though the NRA has dominated the gun debate in lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions for the past five years.

Indeed, the justices did rule that local jurisdictions still retain the flexibility to preserve some "reasonable" gun-control measures currently in place nationwide.

"We are reassured that the Court has rejected, once again, the gun lobby argument that its 'any gun, for anybody, anywhere' agenda is protected by the Constitution," the statement from the Brady Campaign continues.


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