The Supremes Step Up To the Plate

SCOTUS Will Revisit the 2nd Amendment

The screech you heard emanating from Capital Hill and the City of New York was the sound of alarm. Why? The Supreme Court of the United States decided in January to accept a 2nd Amendment case challenging a Draconian gun control regulation in The Big Apple.

It wasn’t an immediate reaction; the importance took a bit of time to sink in. It’s the first gun-rights case the high court has accepted in nine years and the tremors came not only because several people on both sides of the gun issue seem to agree the New York law is ripe for challenge, but also what an affirmative ruling could portend.

Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor symbolizes freedom — but not for gun owners

A Case for “De-Infringement?”

Under the ultra-restrictive law, handgun owners living inside the city are prohibited from taking their unloaded and cased sidearms outside the city, to distant gun ranges, competitions or on vacation trips. Such extreme prohibition essentially renders the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms nothing more than a government-regulated privilege.

Under the limitations of New York’s law, handgun owners may only take their sidearms to one of a handful of gun ranges inside the city for practice but nowhere else.

Writing in the National Review, David French probably rattled the gun prohibition lobby when he observed,

“I sincerely doubt the court granted review to affirm the Second Circuit’s decision and uphold the New York City law. Barring an extraordinary jurisprudential reversal, the law is on its death march.”

The anti-2nd Amendment crowd has been on something of a rampage since Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives. They’ve been introducing — or at least threatening — all kinds of new gun control restrictions. The last thing they want is a high court ruling expanding the rights of gun owners under the 2nd Amendment. Some of them may even be terrified at the prospect.

The case was brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association with backing from the NRA. Gun control proponents have reportedly suggested to the city it should change the law, thus mooting the court challenge and avoiding a potentially disastrous SCOTUS ruling.

The case is known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York.

What’s At Stake

Evidently, anti-gunners have figured out what may be at stake. If the Supremes slap down New York City’s restriction, it could easily open the doors, if not the floodgates, to a series of other challenges of local gun laws, all ultimately dealing with the “right-to-bear” part of the 2nd Amendment.

For years, gun prohibitionists have been incrementally tightening the screws on firearms owners just because they could get away with it. They don’t want their apple cart upset.
When USA Today reported the high court’s acceptance of the case for review, it quoted Adam Winkler, UCLA Law School professor and author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. Winkler’s analysis was blunt:

“This could be a huge decision…. This case is going to end badly for gun violence prevention advocates.”

Amy Davidson Sorkin, writing in the New Yorker, bared the visceral nature of this panic by making an observation about Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It will be his first opportunity, she explained, for the newest high court addition “to begin building what promises to be a disastrous pro-gun legacy.”

Perhaps Sorkin might one day explain what is so disastrous about a “pro-gun legacy,” but in the meantime a bit of history seems appropriate.

Prime Precedents

In June 2008, the Supreme Court, with the late Justice Antonin Scalia writing the majority opinion, affirmed what groups such as the NRA and 2nd Amendment Foundation (SAF) had contended for years: the 2nd Amendment protects a fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms extending beyond service in a militia. This landmark case is known as District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller.

Two years later, almost to the day, the court again hammered down on the Amendment, this time ruling against the City of Chicago in McDonald v. Chicago, an SAF case. Associated Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion on the case, incorporating the 2nd Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment in the process.

Among her concerns with the New York case, Sorkin acknowledged this:

“Gun regulations now vary widely among the states; the strictest of them may eventually be forced to conform to the loosest. A far greater risk to public safety than leaving handguns in empty apartments is the nationwide effort to sanctify the right to carry weapons, concealed or openly, in public places.”

Jonathan Lowy, director of legal action for the anti-rights Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, as quoted by USA Today, concurred:

“There is a potential that this case will lead to a discussion by some justices, and perhaps by a majority, about whether the right to a firearm extends outside the home into public places.”

What’s wrong with such discussion? The 2nd Amendment affirms a fundamental right “to keep and bear arms.” Surely it cannot be limited to keeping arms in the home and carrying them from one room to another. By some estimates, there are about 17.5 million citizens licensed to carry across the U.S. If they were a crime problem, we would be reading about it daily on the front page of every newspaper, above the fold.

What To Do

Inevitably, rights activists — especially new ones who have suddenly discovered just how imperiled their right to bear arms has become of late — will want to take action.

Here’s what not to do: Don’t write or call the U.S. Supreme Court to demand anything. It is really bad form and because the justices are appointed for life, or until they retire, the only impression you might make will be wrong.

But what gun owners can do (and should already be doing) is encouraging confirmation of conservative judges to vacancies on the lower courts, where much gun-related case law is decided. Installing judges who are not prone to legislate from the bench is important to restoring the 2nd Amendment to its rightful place as an equal to all the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights. It’s what SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb calls “Making the 2nd Amendment Great Again.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is where confirmations happen. The committee is chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Republican members are Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst (IA), John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (TX), Michael Lee (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), Joshua D. Hawley (MO), Thom Tillis (NC), Mike Crapo (ID), John Kennedy (LA) and Marsha Blackburn (TN).

Ranking member is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and the other Democrat members are Patrick Leahy (VT), Dick Durbin (IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Christopher A. Coons (DE), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Mazie Hirono (HI), Cory Booker (NJ) and Kamala Harris (CA).

Find out more at
The committee may be contacted at:
Senate Judiciary Committee
Room 224

Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510.
(202) 224-5224

Messages supporting or opposing judicial nominations should be
short, polite and specific.

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