Second Amendment

A Supreme Second Amendment Disgrace

SCOTUS declines to hear a critical case about bearing arms after the Ninth Circuit's egregious self-reversal.

Paul Albaugh · Jun. 27, 2017

The appointment several months ago of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was a huge victory for conservatives. But after SCOTUS declined to hear an important case from the Ninth Circuit regarding Second Amendment rights, it’s clear that it will take several more conservative appointments to the High Court for right decisions to be made that protect individual freedom.

Yesterday, the Court declined to hear the appeal of the case Peruta v. California. The Ninth Circuit last year declared that for a person to lawfully conceal carry a firearm, they must show “good cause” to obtain a permit to do so. (Notably, that was a self-reversal — an en banc court reversed the ruling of a three-judge panel that had decided in favor of the Second Amendment.)

Good cause? How about the natural right to defend oneself and the fact that the Second Amendment to the Constitution clearly states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Apparently in California, that right doesn’t exist, unless of course there is “good cause.” But what exactly is defined as a good enough cause to carry?

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore defended California’s egregious gun law last year and in an LA Times op-ed defined “good cause” as “a set of circumstances that distinguishes the applicant from other members of the general public and causes him or her to be placed in harm’s way.”

Quite a flawed definition.

Who decides what circumstances distinguish one applicant from another? And what might those circumstances be? Where one lives? What profession an individual has? Would being robbed, raped, assaulted, shot at, or threatened previously be good cause to be able to apply for a conceal carry permit? Why on earth do the Ninth Circuit, Sheriff Gore and others think someone must prove that they have “good cause” to lawfully exercise a right found in the plain language of the United States Constitution?

Hence why we have the Supreme Court to step in when such violations of Liberty arise. Except that the High Court declined to step in and hear the case — which means that, for now, the Ninth Circuit ruling stands, infringing on the constitutional rights of Californians and others.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch were the only two justices who voted to hear the case, and the pair blasted their fellow justices for refusing to do so. In fact, they took the unusual step of writing a dissenting opinion despite no hearing.

Justice Thomas had this to say: “The Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.” Thomas continued, “Even if other Members of the Court do not agree that the Second Amendment likely protects a right to public carry, the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively.”

Indeed, it has, especially since so many lower federal courts have reached different conclusions on the Second Amendment and where and to whom it applies.

Thomas added to his dissent, “This Court has already suggested that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry firearms in public in some fashion. As we explained in Heller, to ‘bear arms’ means to ‘wear, bear, or carry upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.” He further noted, “I find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.”

Worse, Thomas argued, is that the Court has declined numerous Second Amendment cases in recent years. “The Court’s decision to deny certiorari in this case reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right,” Thomas wrote. “The Court has not heard argument in a Second Amendment case in over seven years — since March 2, 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742. Since that time, we have heard argument in, for example, roughly 35 cases where the question presented turned on the meaning of the First Amendment and 25 cases that turned on the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

Gun grabbers of all stripes are ecstatic that SCOTUS did not hear this case. However, yesterday’s decision should be a stark reminder that Liberty is still under attack by those who wish to control every aspect of citizens’ lives. This battle in California has been lost, at least for now. But there are numerous victories being won for gun rights around the country, and it could be that the Court revisits this case or another like it at some point. Keep your powder dry.

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