In Congress, Democratic and Republican lawmakers are poised to introduce new legislation to combat gun violence after mass shootings. With strong public support, the bill represents a game-changing opportunity not seen in a generation.
Across the street from the Capitol, however, Republican-appointed judges are pushing in the opposite direction. NBC News reported:
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Constitution provides the right to carry a gun outside the home and issued a key decision on the meaning of the Second Amendment.
The verdict in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. vs. Bruen was a 6-3 decision with the Republican-appointed judges voting in a majority.
In 2008, the Supreme Court issued a landmark Second Amendment ruling in a case seized District of Columbia vs. Heller. Then-Judge Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, concluding that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to have a gun in his or her home.
Today’s verdict brown goes a lot of It also struck down a New York law that required residents to apply for a state license and show “proper reason” to carry a concealed weapon in public. Judge Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority and said such a restriction was illegal under the Second Amendment.
The Constitution, Thomas wrote, protects “a person’s right to carry a pistol outside the home in self-defense.”
This dramatically expands gun rights and, as the Associated Press noted, will “allow more people to legally carry guns on the streets of the country’s largest cities.”
What could possibly go wrong.
Thomas went on to outline a new standard for firearms restrictions. “To justify its regulation, the government cannot simply posit that regulation furthers an important interest,” the far-right judge wrote, dismissing public safety concerns and evidence. “Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation.” Only when a firearms ordinance is consistent with that nation’s historical tradition can a court conclude that the individual’s conduct fell outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command’.”
NBC News’ report added that today’s ruling “could affect the ability of state and local governments to enact a variety of firearms regulations,” particularly requirements for state-issued permits to allow concealed weapon carry in public .
As Mark Joseph Stern from Slate put it“To date, approximately 83 million people – roughly one in four Americans – lived in a condition that carried severely limited concealment to those who felt an increased need for self-defense. Now zero people live in such a state.”
In his dissent, outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer argued that it was “often necessary” for the court to consider societal violence when dealing with Second Amendment cases.
“The dangers of firearms can take many forms,” Breyer wrote. “Newspapers report mass shooting in entertainment district in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (3 dead and 11 injured); an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas (21 dead); a supermarket in Buffalo, New York (10 dead and 3 injured); a string of spas in Atlanta, Georgia (8 dead); a busy street in an entertainment district of Dayton, Ohio (9 dead and 17 injured); a nightclub in Orlando, Florida (50 dead and 53 injured); a church in Charleston, South Carolina (9 dead); a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado (12 dead and 50 injured); an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut (26 dead); and many, many more.”
He added, “[M]Ass shootings are only part of the problem. Easy access to firearms can also make many other aspects of American life more dangerous. For example, consider the effect of guns on road rage.”
“The New York Legislature reviewed the empirical evidence on gun violence and passed a reasonable licensing act to regulate the concealed carrying of handguns to keep the people of New York safe,” he concluded.
That argument was rejected by the Republican-appointed judges.
It will take time to digest the details and scope of the verdict, but at face value it’s becoming increasingly difficult to envision any Gun restrictions that would satisfy the Supreme Court’s ruthless far-right majority.