(RightWing.org) – For nearly a century, citizens, the government, and the courts have wrestled with the Second Amendment. Does a person have a right to own a gun to protect themselves outside of the home? The court repeatedly agrees that one does have that right. However, can the government place restrictions on that right?
On Wednesday, November 3, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear a case involving a 108-year-old handgun licensing law in New York. If the justices side with the plaintiffs, it could gut gun-control laws throughout the country. A win for gun rights activists could redefine the Second Amendment to take on a more historical understanding of the Constitution. If the decision doesn’t go their way, it could allow Progressives to gut that part of the amendment.
Is New York Law Too Restrictive of Gun Rights?
In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. (NYSRPA) v. Bruen, the 108-year-old law in question requires anyone who wants a license to carry a concealed handgun outside of one’s home to prove “proper cause” for obtaining the permit. New York state courts have defined “proper cause” in such a way that it puts a burden on a license applicant to demonstrate a reason why they would need to defend themselves. The court’s intent is to force citizens to offer a specific and reasonable explanation for the need. If a person physically threatened someone, that would qualify. However, if one says they just want to protect themselves in the event something could happen, it’s not enough to warrant a concealed handgun permit according to New York state law.
Robert Nash and Brandon Koch are the two men behind the challenge. The state granted them “restricted” permits that allow them to carry a gun outside their home for the explicit purpose of hunting and target shooting. Koch also has a limited license that allows him to carry a gun to and from work for self-defense. However, the state denied their applications for a concealed-carry permit.
Along with a gun-rights advocacy group, they challenged the law as “draconian.” A federal district court agreed with the state and threw the case out. Upon appeal, the US Second Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal. Now, the 6-3 conservative majority in the SCOTUS will have the final say on the matter.
Text, History, and Tradition of the Second Amendment
At the heart of the case, the plaintiffs argue that the “text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment” make the old law and the applicant’s denial for a concealed carry permit unconstitutional. They say self-defense carry for any reason is the rule, not the exception as New York claims.
This is important as conservative judges and legal scholars interpret the Constitution to mean what it said at the time of ratification in 1787 and through the early years of the nation’s maturation. The approach is called “originalism.”
The state argues that while the right to carry and bear arms exists in the Constitution, the right isn’t absolute, much like freedom of speech. They claim the restriction is consistent with laws dating back many years ago, and the law is less restrictive than many public-carry laws in early American history.
The justices are likely to rely on District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). The court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun for self-defense. However, the court said the right wasn’t unlimited despite significantly increased gun-owner rights.
If the decision is ultimately for the challengers, this case could invalidate similar laws across the country and make it easier for people to carry concealed guns in public places. That would cause large cities and heavily populated centers to adopt the same rules for guns that exist in rural, conservative areas. Perhaps some consistency would be a good thing?
The court hears the case on November 3, but a ruling won’t likely be made public until spring 2022.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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