The American Medical Association has long supported gun control measures that fly in the face of the right to keep and bear arms, including mandatory licensing and permitting of gun owners, red flag laws that deprive gun owners of due process (and ironically, remove mental health docs from the process of determining whether someone is a danger to themselves or others), gun storage laws that make it difficult if not impossible to use a firearm in self-defense, as well as bans on gun and ammunition sales to those under the age of 21.
Now the group is weighing in on the challenge to New York’s carry permitting laws that will be heard by the Supreme Court next month, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, the AMA’s lawyers have penned a brief arguing in favor of upholding the state’s subjective and draconian permitting scheme as constitutional. The AMA even pushed out a press release patting itself on the back for standing opposed to the right to bear arms.
The New York law respects the “core” right of self-defense in one’s home, the brief filed in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. et al. v. Bruen tells the court. The law “allows any eligible applicant to obtain a license to use a handgun within the home without showing ‘proper cause’” and “imposes additional license requirements only when an applicant seeks to bring a concealed handgun into a public space.”
But the brief goes beyond simply citing case law to prove its point.
To impress upon the court the grave public health crisis that gun violence has created in America, physicians offered firsthand accounts of the fallout they have witnessed from gun violence day after day for decades.
And how much of that violence is perpetrated by law-abiding individuals who possess a license to carry? Almost none, though you won’t find the AMA admitting to that inconvenient fact in its amicus brief. Instead, the anti-gun doctors presume that more lawful carry will lead to more violence and injuries, which simply isn’t borne out by the decades of experience we have with states like Florida. Since the state adopted “shall issue” right to carry laws in the late 1980s, violent crime and homicides have declined by more than 50%, even while the number of Floridians licensed to carry has grown to more than 2,000,000.
The AMA argues that New York has a compelling interest in reducing “gun violence,” which I don’t think anyone disputes. The issue is whether or not the state’s interest in promoting public safety trumps the individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. As the Supreme Court noted in Heller, when it struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns:
We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns. But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.
Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
It is not the role of the Supreme Court to pronounce that the Second Amendment only protects the right to keep arms while doing nothing to protect the right to bear them. And frankly, it’s not the role of the American Medical Association to demand that the Court curtail those rights in the name of public safety. Far more Americans died last year from medical mistakes than were murdered by individuals who were lawfully carrying firearms, so if these anti-gun doctors are truly concerned about a public health crisis, my advice to them is to heal themselves before trying to disarm their patients and colleagues.