We’re still waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. NYC, but in the meantime, justices will be considering another Second Amendment-related case in conference later this month. Rodriguez v. San Jose is a case out of California, and the issue before the court is whether or not a woman’s Second Amendment rights were violated when police seized her firearms and refused to return them, because they believed her husband to be a danger to himself or others.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals bizarrely ruled that Lori Rodriguez had no right to keep her firearms, though they also noted that there was nothing illegal about her buying a gun either. The court argued that because police believed that her husband (who according to Rodriguez did not have access to her firearms) could pose a threat to public safety, firearms that had been seized from their home when her husband was taken into custody under a mental health hold did not have to be returned to her.
Lori contended in the state court proceedings that Defendants were violating her “right to keep and bear arms” by refusing to return the firearms because of her husband’s prohibited status, even though “she was not prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms and had promised to take all steps required under California law to secure the firearms in a gun safe.” The California Court of Appeal expressly rejected this argument and the notion that the Second Amendment required returning her the guns. Highlighting that Lori had not pointed to any authority to the contrary, the court stated that the Supreme Court’s decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago suggested that the Second Amendment did not “extend to keeping and bearing either any particular firearms or firearms that have been confiscated from a mentally ill person.” Ultimately, the court concluded “that Lori ha[d] failed to show that the trial court’s . . . order violate[d] the Second Amendment.”
Under the 9th Circuit’s decision, you may have the right to own a firearm, but the police have the power to seize it and refuse to return it. As long as you can buy another one, says the court, your Second Amendment rights remain intact.
Thankfully, this ridiculous decision has now reached the Supreme Court, though that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll accept the case. In fact, I’d say it’s unlikely that they’ll do anything with it until the decision in NYSPRA v. NYC is handed down. There are already a number of Second Amendment-related cases that have been in conference for months, including challenges to New Jersey’s concealed carry laws and a lawsuit taking on California’s microstamping law. Everything seems to be on hold until we get the opinion on the challenge to one of New York City’s gun laws, and depending on what that opinion says, we could see a number of cases dealing with the right to keep and bear arms accepted by the Supreme Court in the coming months.