Gun Control Activists Already Game Planning SCOTUS Loss

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

With the Supreme Court taking up the issue of the right to bear arms today in a case called New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, many gun control activists seem convinced that the Court is poised to declare New York’s “may issue” carry permitting scheme unconstitutional. Not that they’re happy about it, of course, but they can do the math. With six conservative justices (or maybe five and a half depending on how Chief Justice John Roberts is feeling on any given day), the odds are good that New York’s arbitrary and capricious permitting of a fundamental civil right will be overturned when the Court’s opinion is issued (likely in early summer of next year).

Before that opinion is handed down, writes gun control activist and law professor Cody Jacobs, other “may issue” states like Massachusetts need to be proactive in putting new barriers in place between the People and their right to bear arms.

While the loss of these laws will be a lamentable blow to public safety and democracy, Massachusetts still has options to protect its residents under this new, judicially imposed regime. Although Massachusetts would no longer be able to require a demonstrated need to carry a firearm, it could still set stringent—but objective—requirements for obtaining a permit, including live range training, training in self-defense law, and prohibitions on obtaining a permit for people with certain kinds of criminal convictions.

The legislature could also prohibit people from carrying guns in sensitive places, such as bars, stadiums, places of worship, or playgrounds. The legislature should also provide ways that private businesses can opt out of allowing guns on their premises through clear signage, or even require private businesses to opt in if they wish to allow guns on their property. Existing laws already address some of these issues, but with gun carrying about to open up to most of the general public for the first time, it is imperative that the legislature take a fresh look.

In other words, while Jacobs thinks that soon the average Massachusetts resident will be able to exercise their right to bear arms in theory, there are still steps the state can take to limit the exercise of that civil right as much as possible.

There are many options to make public carrying in Massachusetts as safe as possible, but one option we can’t afford is inaction. Illinois found this out the hard way. When its ban on concealed carrying was struck down by a federal appeals court in 2012, it led to a rushed process under the gun of the court’s deadline. Ultimately, Illinois enacted a new law that was far less stringent than activists had hoped, given the Democratic supermajority in Illinois’ state legislature.

This is an outright laughable attempt to rewrite history on the part of Jacobs. Why didn’t the state of Illinois simply appeal the Seventh Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court back in 2012? Oh, that’s right; the gun control lobby begged Democrats to take the loss rather than risk the Supreme Court setting a nationwide precedent by addressing the state’s complete ban on bearing arms in self-defense. The “inaction” that Jacobs complains about was actually the strategy suggested by his fellow activists at the time.

The gun control lobby also prevailed on Washington, D.C. to not appeal an appellate court decision striking down its own “good cause” requirement in 2017, but while they were able to delay Supreme Court scrutiny when it comes to the right to bear arms, they weren’t successful in avoiding it completely. And now that the Court is likely to overturn New York’s permitting scheme, which could also impact “may issue” laws in states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California, gun control activists like Jacobs are suggesting that there are still plenty of opportunities for the gun control lobby to insert itself between the People and their right to bear arms.

He’s right in the sense that the gun control lobby isn’t going to fold up its tent and go home if they lose the Bruen case. But what Jacobs apparently doesn’t understand is that once the Supreme Court has unambiguously declared that the Second Amendment means what it says and the People have a right to both keep and carry guns for self-defense, there will be no denying that the gun control lobby will be the most well-funded anti-civil rights movement in American politics today. They can couch their anti-rights ideology in phrases like “common sense gun safety” all they like, but their intentions will still be clear; to deny, delay, and limit the exercise of a fundamental civil right as much as possible. That doesn’t just put the gun control lobby on the wrong side of the Constitution, but on the wrong side of history as well.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET