Second Amendment: Deliberation over whether the Second Amendment grants Americans the ability to openly carry guns outside of the home has reached the Supreme Court. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Second Amendment
Gun rights and the second amendment were in focus at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The question at hand: does the second amendment end at your doorstep? Tom King, president of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association thinks the answer is no. While the Supreme Court has said the Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms at home, gun rights advocates believe that should apply when you leave the house as well. King’s group is suing New York on behalf of two members who were denied unlimited concealed carry. Currently New York’s 108-year-old handgun-licensing law requires anyone who wants a license to carry a concealed handgun to show “proper cause”, Amy Howe writes for SCOTUSBlog. “Courts in New York have defined ‘proper cause’ to require applicants to show a special need to defend themselves, rather than simply wanting to protect themselves or their property.” Gun control advocates argue that limits on concealed carry are absolutely essential in order to protect “the right to live,” Kris Brown, president of the advocacy group Brady, said. “It’s about our ability as Americans to leave home to go to church, to go to synagogue, and actually not to fear being shot.” The court’s final ruling likely won’t come until next summer but here’s what both sides are saying about initial reactions.
On The Left
Left-leaning commentators are not super optimistic about what they heard on Wednesday. Given the Supreme Court’s conservative majority they believe gun rights will be expanded. More than a few wish Conservatives would follow their own advice and leave gun rights up to individual states.
“The Supreme Court is poised to make us all live under Texas’ gun laws” Paul Waldman, Washington Post Opinion: On Wednesday, “a few things became clear. First, the court is almost certain to strike down the New York law. All six conservative justices expressed skepticism of New York’s regulation… Second, when the court does so, it will probably for the first time in American history create an individual ‘right’ not just to own guns — which the court established, also for the first time in our history, in 2008 — but to carry them to public places. And third, when they do so they will in effect be taking the gun culture of conservative states and forcing the rest of us to live under it. … What the Supreme Court is poised to do is say to every American: You live in Oklahoma now. People are just going to be carrying guns around. We don’t know precisely how far the court will go in this regard, but it’s obvious they’re going to keep steadily expanding gun rights.”
“The Supreme Court Is Set to Wipe Out a Major Gun-Control Law” Jay Michaelson, NY Mag: “New Yorkers should get used to having a lot more guns on the street. That’s the takeaway from Wednesday’s oral arguments… thanks to decades of lobbying by gun manufacturers and the NRA, legal history was changed in 2008, and advocates of gun control now have to deal with it. Second Amendment rights exist, and with this conservative-dominated Court, they’re only going to expand. … Normally, conservatives love states’ rights, which is why, over the last century, they’ve argued that states should be allowed to maintain segregation, ban abortion, stop people of color from voting, and criminalize being gay. Here, however, despite the obvious fact that states have all sorts of reasons for balancing safety and liberty in different ways, conservatives seek to take some options ‘off the table.'”
“The Supreme Court won’t settle the 2nd Amendment dispute, but it can prevent disaster” Editorial Board, LA Times: “In some parts of the country, people still do use guns to put food on the table, for sport or simply as an attribute of their lifestyle. Gun-toting behavior that would be natural and acceptable in, say, rural Pennsylvania, would be menacing and is wisely prohibited in downtown Los Angeles. For now. In issuing a ruling in the case currently before it, the Supreme Court may well strike down not merely New York’s permit requirements but also California’s, and those of the six other states that reserve the right to grant or deny permits based on the applicant’s reason for wanting one. States have long made their own decisions about how to balance residents’ safety with their gun rights, based on the values expressed by voters at the polls and their representatives in the legislature. … It’s odd to think that those 27 poorly assembled words [of the 2nd Amendment] leave people on all sides of the issue in such fear of one another, when they were intended to keep us free.”
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators are more upbeat given the Supreme Court’s conservative tint. They want the Supreme Court to use this case to clarify vague items from the District of Columbia v. Heller ruling in 2008. In their minds, “clarify” mostly means expanding gun rights including concealed carry.
“The Second Amendment Is for Everybody” Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal: “Regular citizens in New York face an almost insuperable bar if they want to bear a firearm for personal defense. … Applicants must show ‘a special need’ for defense… An impeccable public record doesn’t matter. Neither does extensive firearms training. … This case is about ‘who,’ not ‘where.’ One law-abiding citizen in New York is permitted to carry a gun and another is prohibited. Why? Because some government official decided the first fear was ‘particularized’ and the second was ‘generalized,’ even if sincere. … A win for the gun club, the state claims, will “jeopardize” gun rules in “courthouses, airports, subways, sports arenas, bars, gaming facilities, houses of worship, and schools.” That seems unlikely. The Heller ruling itself was clear not to ‘cast doubt’ on ‘laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.’ … A Supreme Court corrective that gives more specific weight to its Heller precedent is long overdue.”
Gun rights showdown – Supreme Court case a potential big win for Second Amendment” Jonathan Turley, Fox News Opinion: “The current court membership is arguably the strongest Second Amendment bench in decades. … With lower courts chipping away at its prior precedent, the [Supreme] court seems poised to push back with a case that brings greater clarity and support for the right to bear arms in public. … The court is likely to continue to recognize reasonable limitations, including possibly some location-based limits. However, it may create a clear presumption in favor of law-abiding citizens to bear arms outside of the home. The natural default under the Second Amendment in favor of gun owners is likely to be strengthened.”
“Supreme Court stakes are high this fall for law-abiding people” Tim Schmidt, Washington Examiner: “New York is one of eight states — California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island being the others — that still have state laws preventing responsible people from protecting themselves from criminals when outside of their homes. The irony should not be lost that even as these states have some of the most restrictive anti-gun laws in the country, many of their cities, such as Newark, Syracuse, San Bernardino, and Baltimore, still have some of the highest murder rates in the country as well. … Stakes could not be higher for the millions of responsible, law-abiding people who simply want to protect themselves and their families no matter where they are. … This is because more and more people recognize that with crime on the rise, and as helpful and supportive as many of our police officers can be, they cannot be our families’ personal bodyguards. … Responsible, law-abiding people … have that right under the U.S. Constitution, and it’s critical for the Supreme Court to affirm that.”
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A majority of Americans favor stricter laws covering the sale of firearms, but today’s 57% is down significantly from 64% a year ago, Gallup notes. Earlier this year a USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll after the mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado showed 65% of Americans want tougher gun laws. An August 2019 Fox News poll of registered voters found 90% of respondents favored universal background checks, 81% supported taking guns from at-risk individuals, and 67% favored banning assault weapons. With that said, there are polls from right-leaning outlets like Rasmussen which found that by a 68%-22% margin, people “feel safer in a neighborhood where guns are allowed.” Four-in-ten adults say they live in a household with a gun, including 30% who say they personally own one, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2021.
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In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now? Comment below to share your thoughts.