Recently the Supreme Court declined to take up several Second Amendment cases. The justices were presented with petitions from 10 challenges to established state laws to limit the accessibility of some firearms and the specifics of when they are allowed to be carried out in public.
Over a decade ago, 2008’s important 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v Heller upheld that the Second Amendment gives an individual the right to keep and bear arms at their residence and for self-defense purposes.
It has only been revisited briefly one time two years later and since that time, the Court has not spoken extensively on Second Amendment rights.
Of the 10 cases the court declined to look at, half were asking the justices to weigh in on whether or not the government, under the Second Amendment, can restrict the rights of citizens to carry firearms out in public.
Two of the high-profile cases challenged state law bans in Illinois and Massachusetts on semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines.
Jacob Charles, who serves as executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School, said this of the court’s surprising decision: “The petitions denied today presented some of the biggest open questions in Second Amendment law, including what types of weapons the Constitution protects and how and whether the right extends outside the home.”
Charles continued, “For now, it appears that a majority of the Court is content to let these issues be sorted out by the lower courts.”
In recent years, three of the nine justices have been outspoken in their wishes that the court would take up a Second Amendment case.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh lamented that lower courts have been ignoring the issue, saying the court should “address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court.”
In 2018, Justice Clarence Thomas said that lower courts treated the Second Amendment right “cavalierly.”
Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of pro-gun safety organization Brady: United Against Gun Violence, sees things a bit differently. Lowy said he believes the decision to not hear the Second Amendment cases is “well-reasoned.”
Lowy said that This “decision is welcome, but we are vigilant that there remains a concerted effort to reverse it and undermine our nation’s hard-earned progress in instituting common-sense gun safety measures and that those arguments have found sympathy with several of the Justices.”
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