UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT
December 6, 1982, Decided
BAUER, Circuit Judge.
This appeal concerns the constitutionality of the Village of Morton Grove's Ordinance No. 81-11, which prohibits the possession of handguns within the Village's borders.The district court held that the Ordinance was constitutional. We affirm.
We next consider whether Ordinance No. 81-11 violates the second amendment to the United States Constitution....
Because the second amendment is not applicable to Morton Grove and because possession of handguns by individuals is not part of the right to keep and bear arms, Ordinance No. 81-11 does not violate the second amendment....
COFFEY, Circuit Judge, dissenting.
I believe that Morton Grove Ordinance No. 81-11, as a matter of constitutional law, impermissibly interferes with individual privacy rights. I join others who throughout history have recognized that an individual in this country has a protected right, within the confines of the criminal law, to guard his or her home or place of business from unlawful intrusions. In my view, today's majority decision marks a new nadir for the fundamental principle that "a man's home is his castle." It has been said that the greatest threat to our liberty is from well-meaning, and almost imperceptible governmental encroachments upon our personal freedom. Today's decision sanctions an intrusion on our basic rights as citizens which would no doubt be alarming and odious to our founding fathers.
I find today's decision particularly disturbing as it sanctions governmental action which I feel impermissibly interferes with basic human freedoms. I cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing my concern with the erosion of these rights.
The majority cavalierly dismisses the argument that the right to possess commonly owned arms for self-defense and the protection of loved ones is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. Justice Cardozoi defined fundamental rights as those rights "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty." Surely nothing could be more fundamental to the "concept of ordered liberty" than the basic right of an individual, within the confines of the criminal law, to protect his home and family from unlawful and dangerous intrusions.
The court today has also refused to recognize the tremendous impact of Morton Grove Ordinance No. 81-11 on personal privacy rights. There is no doubt that the right to one's privacy is afforded constitutional protection. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized a right to privacy implicit in the federal constitution.
The Morton Grove Ordinance, by prohibiting the possession of a handgun within the confines of the home, violates both the fundamental right to privacy and the fundamental right to defend the home against unlawful intrusion within the parameters of the criminal law. There is no area of human activity more protected by the right to privacy than the right to be free from unnecessary government intrusion in the confines of the home.
The unique importance of the home from time immemorial has been amply demonstrated in our constitutional jurisprudence. Among the enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights are the Third Amendment's prohibition of quartering of troops in a private house in peace-time and the right of citizens to be "secure in their . . . houses . . . against unreasonable searches and seizures . . ." guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. As early as 1886, the United States Supreme Court recognized that the Fifth Amendment protects against all governmental invasions "of the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life." The First Amendment had been held to encompass the right to "privacy and freedom of association in the home." In Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557 (1969), the Supreme Court overturned a state conviction for possession of obscene material, holding "that the First and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit making the private possession of obscene material a crime." The Supreme Court had previously held that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, but in Stanley the Court made a distinction between commercial distribution of obscene matter and the private possession of such materials in the home and held the Georgia statute unconstitutional because it prohibited the possession of such materials in the home. The Court recited: "For also fundamental is the right to be free, except in very limited circumstances, from unwanted governmental intrusions into one's privacy." The Court has made it clear that its Stanley decision was not based on the idea that obscene matter is itself protected under the right of privacy. Rather, the focus in Stanley was on the fact that the activity prohibited by the Georgia statute occurred in the privacy of the home.
The government bears a heavy burden when attempting to justify an expansion, as in gun control, of the "limited circumstances" in which intrusion into the privacy of a home is permitted.
Morton Grove has not met that heavy burden. Without question, the state may, should and has placed reasonable restrictions on the possession of handguns outside one's home to protect the public welfare. However, Morton Grove's prohibition of handgun possession within the confines of a person's own home has not been shown to be necessary to protect the public welfare and thus violates the fundamental right to privacy.
The right to privacy is one of the most cherished rights an American citizen has; the right to privacy sets America apart from totalitarian states in which the interests of the state prevail over individual rights. A fundamental part of our concept of ordered liberty is the right to protect one's home and family against dangerous intrusions subject to the criminal law. Morton Grove, acting like the omniscient and paternalistic "Big Brother" in George Orwell's novel, "1984", cannot, in the name of public welfare, dictate to its residents that they may not possess a handgun in the privacy of their home. To so prohibit the possession of handguns in the privacy of the home prevents a person from protecting his home and family, endangers law-abiding citizens and renders meaningless the Supreme Court's teaching that "a man's home is his castle."