We’ve known for a while now that gun control advocates are terrified about the prospect of the Supreme Court getting ahold of another case dealing with the right to keep and bear arms. That’s why New York City changed a gun transportation law in a successful attempt to avoid Supreme Court scrutiny, and it’s why gun control advocates pleaded with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and Illinois not to appeal adverse rulings in cases dealing with the right to carry in recent years. Anti-gun advocates know that given the current makeup of the court, the chances are good that gun owners would get another legal victory, and that could pose a crippling blow to the gun prohibition movement in the United States.
Of course, gun control advocates don’t like to admit that they’re terrified that the Supreme Court, or at least five of the justices, could look at the Second Amendment and determine that it means what it says: the people have a right to both keep and bear arms, and that right shall not be infringed. Instead, they’ll simply rewrite history and invent arguments out of thin air, as the editorial board of the Washington Post has done with their editorial urging the Supreme Court to reject every Second Amendment-related case that it’s currently considering in conference.
The justices will decide, perhaps as soon as Thursday, whether to hear a handful of gun cases that have emerged from various appellate courts. One is a challenge to a Maryland law requiring people to have a permit to carry firearms in public, unless they are going hunting or engaging in other similar activities. Another concerns a California law that requires guns sold in the state to come with safety features to, for example, prevent accidental discharge. Yet another is a dispute over a Massachusetts ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Each of these laws is modest and carefully tailored to respect the Second Amendment as the court interpreted it a decade ago. While highly favorable to pro-gun interests, the court’s decision in its landmark 2008 gun case, District of Columbia v. Heller, declared that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” and it does not guarantee that people can “keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
If these laws were “narrowly tailored,” the Court wouldn’t be considering them at all. In fact, the cases under consideration for review by SCOTUS deals with some pretty broad issues, like whether or not states can require applicants for a concealed carry license to show “good cause” or a “justifiable need,” whether states can ban the most commonly sold rifle in the United States, and whether a state can impose a mandate on firearm manufacturers that is impossible to meet, resulting in a piecemeal gun ban.
The Washington Post editorial board claims that none of these laws are really controversial, and therefore there’s no need for the Court to weigh in.
Since Heller, there has been virtually no disagreement among lower courts about how to apply these principles. Appeals courts have established a working consensus on how to evaluate gun measures, carefully following the Supreme Court’s guidance. When there is no disagreement among circuit courts, the Supreme Court typically declines to step in.
Certainly on the issue of the right to carry, there’s a split in the circuit courts, which the Washington Post completely ignores. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, for instance, threw out the District’s requirement that concealed carry applicants demonstrate a good reason to carry a gun (with “it’s my right” not considered a valid reason) back in 2017, but the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Maryland’s good cause requirement. That alone is enough to dismiss the WaPo‘s claims that there’s no reason for the Supreme Court to hear any of the cases it’s currently considering.
The paper’s editors end their piece by stating-without any evidence- that the court is now more conservative than it was when the Heller case was decided, and bizarrely assert that if the Court were to accept a Second Amendment case now, it would be a “naked power play” that “would only imperil the court’s fragile credibility.” Give me a break. The simple truth is that the Washington Post editors know that there is indeed a split among the circuits on the right to carry, but they can’t tell their readers about the split because it completely undercuts their own strawman argument. If the Post‘s editors had the stones to be honest with their subscribers, they would’ve written a piece called “We Don’t Want SCOTUS To Take a Gun Case Because We’re Afraid Gun Control Advocates Will Lose Again.”