By: José Niño
The Supreme Court has decided not to take action on certain cases dealing with the scope of the Second Amendment.
Although the court is ostensibly conservative, the justices turned down petitions from 10 challenges to state laws that limited the “availability and accessibility of some firearms and when they can be carried in public,” said a CNN report.
The last landmark Second Amendment decisions were District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), which upheld an American citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. Since these pro-Second Amendment decisions, the court has not taken up a significant Second Amendment case again. As recently as April, the court refused to weigh in on a case regarding a New York handgun law that regulates the transportation of firearms.
The cases rejected by the court involved questions of whether laws banning interstate handgun sales in some cases violate the Second Amendment, whether there is a constitutional right to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense, if Illinois and Massachusetts can ban assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines, and whether a state can limit handgun permits to people who demonstrate a specific need for self-defense.
Jacob Charles, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School, was caught by surprise at the court’s decision not to address any of the Second Amendment petitions. "The petitions denied today presented some of the biggest open questions in Second Amendment law, including what types of weapons the Constitution protects and how and whether the right extends outside the home," Charles stated. "For now, it appears that a majority of the Court is content to let these issues be sorted out by the lower courts."
Several justices on the bench have made it clear in recent years about their intent on hearing Second Amendment cases. In May, Justice Brett Kavanaugh voiced his concerns about lower courts ignoring precedents established by the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh suggested that the court "address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court."
Back in 2018, Justice Clarence Thomas criticized lower courts for treating the Second Amendment rights "cavalierly."
Jonathan Lowy, Chief Counsel and Vice President of the anti-gun organization Brady: United Against Gun Violence, declared that the court’s decision not to hear any Second Amendment cases is "well-reasoned.
"Today’s decision is welcome, but we are vigilant that there remains a concerted effort to reverse it and undermine our nation’s hard-earned progress in instituting common-sense gun safety measures and that those arguments have found sympathy with several of the Justices," Lowy told CNN in a statement.
America’s judicial system plays a crucial role in defending our civil liberties. The courts, though, and above all, the Supreme Court, will not always be there to save gun owners.
Second Amendment activists must take this to heart and start focusing their efforts in their state legislatures. State governments are just as capable of infringing on our rights, which necessitates a strong response from activists. By being engaged at all levels of government, we can avoid having to wait on the Supreme Court to save us all the time.
José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at email@example.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.