Law \ Legal

Court Rulings Prod Expansion of Gun Rights Across U.S. 

Since the Supreme Court struck down New York’s longstanding gun law, lower courts have ruled heavily against restricting guns, reports Jacob Gershman in the Wall Street Journal. 

The June 23 ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, held that New York’s law requirement of a license to carry concealed weapons in public places was unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said judges should be guided by whether a regulation “is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

Recent rulings in lower courts across the country have mirrored Thomas’s guidance to stay consistent with how states have historically regulated gun ownership, striking down gun restrictions involving young adults, people facing felony charges, and makers of homemade guns.

New York State is currently appealing a decision by a lower court to strike down restrictions enacted by the state following the Supreme Court decision on carrying guns in specific public places, such as Times Square.

In one recent case, a Texas federal judge ruled that the Constitution allows 18-to-20-year-olds to carry handguns outside for protection. The case is pending before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

After a string of mass shootings, many states looked to raise the age for purchase of firearms, especially assault-style weapons to 21.  But such efforts are unlikely to have traction following the June 23 decision.

A judge in Delaware said restricting “ghost guns” was likely unconstitutional, which could further limit states’ ability to regulate guns.

What’s less clear is how judges might rule on disarming felons, where historical evidence is harder to find. It might be the one area where states trying to regulate guns may win.

“Felons are those who have abused the rights of the people,” wrote Judge David Counts, of the Western District of Texas, in upholding the conviction of a felon for possessing a firearm.

“This nation has a ‘longstanding’ tradition of exercising its right—as a free society—to exclude from ‘the people’ those who squander their rights for crimes and violence.”

James Van Bramer is associate editor of The Crime Report

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