Supreme Court smacks the Second Amendment

  • 9 June 2015
  • NormanL
Supreme Court smacks the Second Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court recently delivered a big setback to Second Amendment supporters when it refused to hear an appeal of a gun rights case out of San Francisco. Gun owners there challenged a city ordinance that barred concealed carry, and required gun owners to keep their firearms at home, "stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock."

If the facts of the San Francisco case sound familiar it is because they correspond so closely to the facts at issue in the Supreme Court's 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. heller">Heller. In that decision, the Court voided not only D.C.'s ban on handguns, it also voided D.C.'s requirement that all firearms kept at home be "unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device." According to Heller, the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep a "lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense."

In other words, the San Francisco gun control law would appear to be plainly unconstitutional under Heller. Yet the Court still refused to hear the case. As is customary, the justices gave no explanation for their denial of the appeal.

Except for Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, who took the unusual step of writing dissents to the Court's decision not to hear the case. You can read the Thomas dissent here. Thomas concludes his opinion with a barb directed right at the appeals court:

We warned in Heller that “[a] constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all.” 554 U. S., at 634. The Court of Appeals in this case recognized that San Francisco’s law burdened the core component of the Second Amendment guarantee, yet upheld the law. Because of the importance of the constitutional right at stake and the questionable nature of the Court of Appeals’ judgment, I would have granted a writ of certiorari.