Supreme Court to Hear Case on Second Amendment Right to Carry Concealed Handguns for Self-Defense
Do you support or oppose concealed carry licenses under the Second Amendment?
by SCOTUS WATCH | 4.26.21
What’s the story?
- The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will take up a gun rights case concerning New York’s restrictions on concealed carry permits later this year, which sets up a potential landmark Second Amendment ruling next year.
- New York law requires that a person applying for an unrestricted concealed carry license demonstrate “proper cause” exists for issuance of a license, including for target shooting, hunting, or self-defense. Concealed carry license applications are considered and issued at the local level, such as by the county sheriff or court system, and interpretations of “proper cause” vary between localities in New York.
- Known as New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, the case before the Supreme Court concerns whether New York state’s denial of the petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.
- Oral arguments will be held in the fall after the Supreme Court’s next term begins in October 2021, and a decision in the case is expected in 2022.
What do the Constitution and the Supreme Court say about the Second Amendment?
- The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Like other constitutional rights, the right to bear arms has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in light of policies advanced by governments seeking to limit that right.
- The Supreme Court’s most significant decision related to gun rights came in 2008’s Heller v. District of Columbia, which held that individuals have the right to own a firearm for lawful purposes such as self-defense. D.C. attempted to ban handguns & mandate that rifles & shotguns either be kept unloaded & disassembled or bound by a trigger lock in the owner’s home. Both of those restrictions were found to be unconstitutional by a 5-4 majority. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion, which concluded:
“The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly chose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny that the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition―in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute―would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.”
- The majority opinion in Heller noted that its decision is specific to the restrictions at issue in the case and should not be interpreted as applying to other gun control policies, as “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited”:
“The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. ”
- Since Heller, there have been two notable decisions that reaffirmed & further shaped the legal debate surrounding Second Amendment rights.
- McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010): The Court held that the Second Amendment’s protections extend to state policies through the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause and apply to cities & states in the same manner Heller applied to D.C. The case concerned a similar handgun ban & restrictions on rifles & shotguns imposed by the city of Chicago, which were found to be unconstitutional.
- Caetano v. Massachusetts (2016): The Court unanimously held that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess "all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding, and that this Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States." It struck down a ban on stun guns enacted by the state of Massachusetts
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / RichLegg)
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