Supreme Court Set To Make the Gun Threat So Much Worse


— from Daily Kos

The U.S. Supreme Court, having fairly recently interpreted the Second Amendment to create an individual right that did not exist in the plain text, is about to make matters even worse. Which is damned hard to imagine, sitting here on the day after at least 20 more people, including 18 young children, were slaughtered by an AR-15-wielding domestic terrorist, a young man who obtained that weapon and the ammunition to celebrate his 18th birthday a week ago. Because that’s how old you have to be in Texas to get a gun. Which you can carry anywhere out in full view in Texas. Where it’s handy, if you want to start massacring babies.

Back to the Supreme Court: In 2008 the court decided District of Columbia v. Heller, and essentially erased the bulk of the Second Amendment. Instead, the court created an individual right to bear arms that there’s good historical evidence against. What the founders were arguably doing back in 1791 in crafting this amendment was what they were consumed by for the first decades of the experiment: keeping the southern states on board. This whole “well-regulated militia” being armed was meant to allow them to keep their slave-hunting militias and have an armed force that would deter slave rebellions.

As legal scholar Reva Siegel argues in the paper revisiting that history, the modern obsession with the individual “right to bear arms” and opposition to gun regulations is still rooted in the southern states’ white supremacy, which has unfortunately bled into pockets all across the country. It gained steam during and immediately after the civil rights movement, a backlash to a modern America daring to try to fulfill the promise of the founding documents for everyone. So in the 14 years since the Supreme Court enshrined that Second Amendment right (kind of like how they installed a president back in 2000), the Overton window hasn’t just shifted. It’s shattered.

Next month, the Supreme Court will almost certainly strike down New York state’s 108-year-old law that restricts who can carry a gun in public. The state’s very well-established concealed carry law is limited to people who have obtained a license, have no criminal record and are of “good moral character,” and have demonstrated “proper cause” for going around armed. New Yorkers who want to carry have to demonstrate that they have a good reason for doing so and their own physical protection requires it.

New York’s law is “not a thing we just came up with yesterday,” said Esther Sanchez-Gomez, a senior attorney with Giffords, the gun restriction advocacy organization. “So it’s shocking that we are now talking about the idea that people somehow might be safer if our public spaces were filled with guns.”

States’ rights is pretty sure to go out the window on this one. Not just for New York, but for all the states that have concealed carry restrictions. We don’t know that for sure, since nobody has leaked the draft decision on this one. But Sanchez-Gomez is worried we’ll see the worst. “As a nation, we have a collective trauma about gun violence,” she said. “You worry you go to a grocery store and someone might show up with a gun. You worry you are waiting to take a subway to work in the morning and someone is going to show up with a gun.”

“More likely,” Sanchez-Gomez said, referring to a possible narrow ruling, “I expect that the ruling will have broader implications.” Never mind the fact the American public wants to see stricter gun laws at the federal level.

The Supreme Court, like the Senate, isn’t particularly answerable to the majority of the people it’s making laws for. That’s fixable: Expand it.

Or Democratic governors could take a stand and just tell the Supreme Court extremists that they are exerting their states’ rights and ignoring decisions based on what a tiny minority of the population, and the Senate they elected, wants. What could the SCOTUS do in response—sue them?


About author
A lifelong Blue girl in a Red state, I’m now Senior Political Writer for Daily Kos. On any given day, I’d rather be horseback, but there’s more demand for political writers than cowgirls.

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