Supreme Court Rejects Second Amendment Cases, Sets Stage for National Debate

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The fact that the Supreme Court has declined to review three lower court rulings that rejected challenges to federal and state gun laws shouldn’t be a surprise, considering it has steadfastly ducked controversial gun owners’ rights cases since issuing its 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago decision (which merely confirmed that a local jurisdiction cannot, by fiat, turn a Constitutional right into a crime).

Monday’s decision not to hear the three cases only further delays an eventual legal showdown in the national “debate” over gun owners’ rights — mainly, whether the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense extends to public places.

That’s the bad news. The good news is a recent California ruling and a New Jersey challenge may provide the cases the High Court has been waiting for to set the stage for this anticipated showdown.

Two of the three cases dismissed by the Supreme Court on Monday were petitions filed by the National Rifle Association, including the most significant case — National Rifle Association of America v. McCraw — a challenge of a Texas law that prevents 18- to 20 year olds from carrying handguns in public, which has been covered by since December 2010.

The broader question raised by the NRA’s challenge to the Texas law is whether there is a general right under the Second Amendment to bear arms in public, a discussion the Supreme Court has left unanswered since ruling in its 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms and, in its 2010 McDonald decision, that the Second Amendment does, indeed, apply to all states and all political subdivisions within (yeah, even Chicago).

The second NRA case was a challenge to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which makes it illegal for firearms dealers to sell guns or ammunition to anyone under 21.

The third rejected petition asked if consumers have the right to challenge laws that regulate the sale of firearms, a challenge to a federal law that restricts the interstate transport of guns, and a related Virginia law, filed by several District of Columbia residents denied the right to obtain guns in Virginia.

Some legal scholars speculated that the Supreme Court would deny hearing the NRA v. McCraw case following a 9th U.S. Circuit Court ruling in early February that struck down a San Diego County law that requires residents show “good cause” to obtain a concealed-weapons permit.

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 2008’s Heller that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess guns at home, the question of whether that right extends to public places has been festering unanswered. The question for the court to answer, hopefully sooner than later, is whether such “good cause” restrictions are Constitutional.

As it did on Monday, the High Court has rejected several petitions seeking to answer that question since 2010. Many Constitutional experts, however, say the 9th U.S. Circuit Court’s recent ruling in Peruta v. San Diego County — as well as a challenge of 3rd Circuit Court ruling that upheld similar restrictions in New Jersey in Drake v. Jerejian — could provide the Supreme Court with more suitable cases to ponder the broader question whether there is a general right under the Second Amendment to bear arms in public.

If so, the 9th Circuit Court ruling bodes well for gun owners’ rights.

“The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain said in the majority opinion.

For more, go to:
Supreme Court won’t consider gun rights for ages 18-20
Supreme Court declines challenges to gun laws
Supreme Court declines challenges to gun laws
Supreme Court declines to hear gun law challenges
National Rifle Association of America v. McCraw
Supreme Court takes on controversial cases