Gun Rights

Will the Supreme Court Once Again Take Up Arms?

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The very valuable SCOTUSblog last week wrote up some of the gun cases up for possible consideration by the Supreme Court soon, a few of which will be considered in a conference by the Court later this month. The Court has notoriously avoided the many issues unresolved by 2008's Heller and 2010's McDonald cases so far:

The Justices at their private Conference on February 21 will be examining two cases filed by the National Rifle Association, raising basic questions about the power of Congress and state and local governments to pass gun control laws.  In different ways, each of those petitions seeks to draw the Court's attention to the lingering issue of gun rights in public places.  The cases are NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (13-137) and NRA v. McCraw (13-390)……

Both of the new cases deal with laws — a federal law in 13-137, a Texas law in 13-390 — that restrict access to handguns for young adults eighteen, nineteen, and twenty years old.   In separate rulings, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld both laws at issue, and in the process raised serious doubts about whether the Second Amendment even applies to gun rights claims of those who are under the age of twenty-one but still regarded as adults….

The petition in the federal case is a sweeping claim that lower federal courts have been engaging in "massive resistance" to the Court's landmark decisions on Second Amendment rights….

The petition in the state case….is a straightforward plea to extend the Second Amendment beyond the home, because it involves a state law that bars almost all youths ages eighteen through twenty from carrying a handgun in public.  Texas requires a license to carry a gun in public, but those in that age group are not eligible to get such a license.  The petition in that case said that the Supreme Court in 2008 settled that the "right to keep arms" applies within the home, so now, it argued, it is time for the Court to decide whether the "right to bear arms" means the right to carry them when one leaves home…..

The Court may announce as early as February 24 whether it is going to hear any of these cases.

The forthcoming April issue of Reason (subscribe now!) has a feature by me, "Five Gun Rights Cases to Watch," which focuses on, among other cases, NRA v. BATFE. It also discusses another case related to restrictions on the right to obtain carry permits, Drake v. Derejian, that has also filed for certiorari to the Court.