Did the Supreme Court uphold a ban on so-called “assault weapons” this week or deliver gun control advocates an historic victory? Not at all, but you’d never know it if you’re consuming the absurd narrative advanced by the anti-gun media.
Take this headline from Newsweek, for example: Conservative Supreme Court Justices Side With Gun Control Advocates. No, the conservative wing of the court didn’t side with anti-gunners. They declined to grant an emergency injunction blocking the state’s gun and magazine ban from being enforced, but the Court gave no indication of why that was the case, though the likeliest explanation is that the Court didn’t want to get ahead of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which has yet to issue its own ruling on a request for an injunction. In fact, the Seventh Circuit has expedited its briefing schedule in these legal challenges, and it’s likely that SCOTUS simply wants to give the appeals court the opportunity to weigh in before it considers any legal challenge.
The Illinois lawsuits also aren’t the only litigation involving a gun ban. A three judge panel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a challenge to Maryland’s “assault weapons” ban last December, and has yet to issue its ruling. SCOTUS granted cert in Bianchi v. Frosh shortly after its decision in Bruen, vacating a lower court decision upholding the state ban and remanding the case back to the Fourth Circuit for reconsideration in light of Bruen. Given that the Court has already expressed an interest in that case, it could also be that a majority of the justices are waiting for Bianchi to once again reach its doorstep and that will be the vehicle the Court uses to address the constitutionality of AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles.
In its order on Wednesday, the Supreme Court neither endorsed a ban on AR-15s nor ruled those prohibitions out of step with the Second Amendment. It simply declined to intervene at a very early stage in one particular legal case; a decision that is frustrating to gun owners and 2A advocates, but hardly the “victory” that some gun prohibitionists are touting.
“This is a great victory for Americans and all of us working to protect our children from the gun violence epidemic facing our nation,” said Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, senior adviser to advocacy group Giffords. “With this ruling the Supreme Court once again reaffirms the rights of legislators and local officials to pass gun safety laws.”
The court did no such thing. In fact, Wednesday’s order affirmed nothing other than what we already know: after Bruen SCOTUS seems inclined to see how lower courts will react and respond to the ruling rather than intervening at the first available opportunity. We saw this in the Antonyuk case dealing with New York’s post-Bruen concealed carry restrictions, and we’ve seen nothing from the Court in the months since that would indicate yesterday’s decision not to intervene is based on anything other than their earlier rationale.
Of course I would have preferred the Court grant relief to the Illinois plaintiffs yesterday, but the anti-gunners are reading way too much into the justice’s decision to keep the law in place while the appeals process continues on an expedited basis. They can try to spin this as some huge victory, but that will just make their ultimate defeat even sweeter when the justices finally decide the time is ripe for them to weigh in on whether or not the most commonly-sold rifle in the country is protected by our right to keep and bear arms.