As the Supreme Court works behind closed doors on its first major Second Amendment opinion in more than a decade, three mass shootings have broken the country, including Tuesday’s massacre of 19 schoolchildren in Texas.
Closed off from public view, the judges are writing opinions and dissent in a dispute centering on a hidden New York law that dates back more than a century. A narrow ruling could affect only a handful of states with similar laws, but a more comprehensive ruling could open a new chapter in constitutional challenges to gun safety laws across the country.
“Formally, the Supreme Court ruling on New York’s gun law doesn’t question gun laws that don’t question the type of guns or sensitive places where individuals can carry guns,” said Jacob Charles, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at the Center for Firearms Law. Duke University School of Law.
“But a broader ruling that changes the way courts review gun laws could call into question a wider range of gun regulations, such as the ban on assault weapons and other restrictions such as the ban on high-capacity magazines,” Charles added.
The deliberations come as the country mourns another tragedy, victims of gun violence call for more action, and political departments seem forever divided on the way forward.
In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to have and carry weapons at home for self-defense.
After the ruling, however, much to the frustration of gun rights advocates, lower courts relied on language to enforce many gun regulations.
“Nothing, in our view, should be taken to cast doubt on the long-standing ban on the possession of firearms by criminals and the mentally ill, or laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings,” wrote then-Judge Antonin Scalia. . for the majority in the Heller case.
With the exception of a follow-up decision two years later, the judges largely stayed away from the issue, angering gun rights advocates and even some of the judges themselves.
Judge Clarence Thomas at one point stated that the “Second Amendment is a denied right in this court.”
After Amy Comey Barrett took her place, the court agreed to hear a new case, emphasizing the impact of former President Donald Trump’s three nominees on the court.
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