Gun control activists may be cheering Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to punt on a challenge to a New York City gun law, but there’s plenty of evidence that the Court may soon take up another case dealing with the Second Amendment, and even National Public Radio is warning the anti-gun crowd that their jubilation may be misplaced.
As NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports, the big question at the moment is where does Chief Justice John Roberts stand on the right to keep and bear arms.
Bottom line here is that when it comes to gun control, there look to be four pretty solid votes against a lot of the measures enacted in recent years after mass shootings. Specifically, laws that bar carrying weapons in public places, and bans on assault weapons and large ammo magazines. All these, plus so called red-flag laws and other measures could be in jeopardy.
The question is where Chief Justice Roberts will be on these and other gun-control questions. To date, he has never been much of a supporter of gun-control laws, but he hasn’t been an outspoken opponent, either. All we really know is that he was part of the 2008 and 2010 majority that for the first time declared that the Second Amendment is an individual right, not, as the court had previously implied, a collective right that was attached to the colonial militia.
I suspect that Roberts sided with the majority in declaring the New York City case moot, not because of any hostility towards the Second Amendment, but because he truly believed that the city had mooted the case by changing the law in question. It’s possible that Roberts was swayed by the fact that a ruling overturning a law that had already been changed would have led to howls of objections, not just from the gun control crowd, but from political and legal activists as well, but even if that’s what happened there are plenty of other Second Amendment-related cases that the Court is currently considering, and we could know as early as Monday if the justices will take up another case dealing with our right to keep and bear arms.
Totenberg didn’t discuss any of these other cases in her report for NPR, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane reminded gun control activists on Twitter about the 10 other cases that the Court will consider in conference on Friday.
Big mistake for gun control orgs to crow about SCOTUS remand in NYSRPA v NYC today. Second Amendment day of reckoning is drawing nigh. SCOTUS has scheduled conferences on several pending #2A cert petitions cases (Kavanaugh concurrence), Worman, Mance, Pena etc @NSSF
— Larry Keane (@lkeane) April 27, 2020
Given the fact that it takes four justices to agree to hear a case, and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Thomas, and Kavanaugh all agreed on Monday that the Supreme Court needs to take a Second Amendment case soon in order to undo some of the damage done by lower courts, I’d say the odds are good that SCOTUS will agree to hear at least one of the ten cases currently in conference. It may not happen this week, but I believe it will happen soon.
Of course, as we just saw in NYSPRA v. NYC, hearing a case isn’t the same as ruling in favor of the right to keep and bear arms, but it will be much more difficult for states or localities to change some of the other laws that are being challenged. It’s one thing for New York City to change the law regarding the transportation of legally owned pistols. New Jersey or Maryland changing their laws regarding the concealed carry of firearms would be something else entirely, and I think it’s highly unlikely that the Democrat-controlled legislatures in both states would be willing to adopt a “shall issue” standard in order to avoid a loss at the Supreme Court.