The Supreme Court of the United States is going to hear a gun case. The last time it took up a case, it destroyed Chicago’s entire gun control scheme at the local level.
Now, the gun control advocates that make up the San Francisco Chronicle‘s editorial board are turning a wary eye on the Court.
California is seriously tough on gun safety, piling up some 109 state restrictions and rules over the decades. Gov. Gavin Newsom came to office proclaiming he’ll enhance that record and eager gun control forces are urging him on with a batch of suggested bills.
But overshadowing this promising picture is another reality. After nearly a decade of silence on the topic, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on a gun-control case with the only doubt being how far the new conservative majority will go in widening Second Amendment gun rights.
It’s an instance of opposite coasts and opposite approaches. California may be the toughest gun-control state in the country with a political lineup ready to go even further. The high court, which sensed it didn’t have the votes for a change-making decision until the arrival of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, is ready to go the other way.
The looming clash could doom many of California’s landmark restrictions on ownership, gun designs and sales. But the Supreme Court could also temper its ruling as it has in the past by limiting the extent of gun rights.
But the Chronicle could be suffering from some wishful thinking.
You see, part of the problem is that while the Court has said in the past that some gun control is acceptable, it’s highly unlikely that some of California’s most egregious measures will pass constitutional muster. For example, its roster of allowable handguns artificially turns firearms that are lawful in 49 other states into illegal items within the state.
Restrictions on ammunition sales could easily be discarded as well.
The truth is that while Chief Justice John Roberts is reportedly the most squishy of the 5-4 pro-gun majority on the bench, he’s unlikely to completely shift over to the anti-gun side without a significant reason why, and California’s draconian gun control restrictions don’t offer one.
This is especially true in light of the Thousand Oaks shooting where the state’s gun laws accomplished absolutely nothing to prevent the tragedy.
The Chronicle is hoping that the measures are mostly left alone, but that’s doubtful. Should a California case make it before the Court, the only real discussion should be on how much of a smack down the Court will hand out. Will it be a complete and total toss-out, or will it be something more akin to Heller?
The editorial board hopes the Court will be swayed by lawmakers, saying, “The Supreme Court justices may want to listen to this surge in legislative concern.”
However, the purpose of the Supreme Court is to keep a check on lawmakers who routinely overstep their bounds and need to be pulled back. That’s the point here. The Supreme Court’s job is to not listen to legislative concern but instead to the text of the Constitution of the United States of America.