After issuing a massive ruling in support of the Second Amendment last week, the U.S. Supreme Court made an additional big move in defense of gun rights on Thursday.
Last week in a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that New York’s concealed carry law was being applied in a way that was unconstitutionally restrictive and ordered the statute vacated.
“The Second Amendment “protect[s] an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in the majority opinion for Thursday’s ruling.
FiveThirtyEight noted further that “[l]aws like New York’s, which required people who wanted a license to carry a concealed handgun in public to show they have a good reason, are no longer allowed.”
The political analysis site went on to explain the implications of the ruling:
That doesn’t mean there is no way to regulate the carrying of guns in public — Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that explicitly in his concurring opinion. But Thursday’s ruling does change the way regulations are evaluated. Thomas’s opinion states regulations need to be historically consistent with the Second Amendment. That means when they look at a modern gun regulation, judges will have to figure out if another, reasonably similar law was passed earlier in the country’s history. Previously, courts had also considered whether a regulation could be justified for other reasons, but that second layer of consideration is no longer allowed.
What all of this means in practice, though, will have to be worked out by the lower courts, which means there will likely be a flood of new litigation over gun restrictions that could come right back to the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, the high court appeared to jump-start the re-litigation process, according to the Western Journal.
“The Supreme Court said … that gun cases involving restrictions in Hawaii, California, New Jersey and Maryland deserve a new look following its major decision in a gun case last week,” the report began.
“In light of last week’s ruling — which said that Americans have a right to carry a gun outside the home — lower courts should take another look at several cases that had been awaiting action by the high court, the court said. Those cases include ones about high-capacity magazines, an assault weapons ban and a state law that limits who can carry a gun outside the home,” the report continued.
The outlet adds:
One of the cases the justices sent back to a lower court Thursday involved a Hawaii statute similar to New York’s. In that case, a panel of 11 judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in 2021 that the right to “keep and bear arms” in the Constitution’s Second Amendment “does not guarantee an unfettered, general right to openly carry arms in public for individual self-defense.” But the high court said in its latest gun case that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” A lower court will now have to revisit the Hawaii ruling.
SCOTUS also instructed federal appeals courts to take a new look at laws in California and New Jersey that put limits on the number of rounds a magazine can hold. In 2018, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed Democrat-passed legislation that limits magazines to 10 rounds of ammunition rather than the 15-round limit that had been in place since 1990. A lower court had already upheld the law.
In California, meanwhile, a statute bans all magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds; a panel of 11 judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled 7-4 to uphold the ban.
Also, the justices sent another case from Maryland back to an appeals court that challenged that state’s ban on 45 types of so-called “assault” weapons. In 2017, the Supreme Court had turned away a previous challenge to that law.