The siege against Americans’ right to bear arms continues, this time in the form of judicial inaction.
On June 15, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to take up a series of cases that challenged state laws inhibiting gun ownership, a constitutional right and an efficient means of self-defense. The result? Bad laws will stay on the books in states like New Jersey and Maryland, leading to the further disarming of model citizens. Meanwhile, it’ll be business as usual for violent criminals.
The Court’s denial provides a window for further infringement on the right to self-defense by state governments. The New Jersey lawsuit brought before the court involved a man who delivered cash to ATMs in “high crime areas,” but was, and now still will be, denied a permit to carry a sidearm. The Maryland law, which will now stay on the books, requires that residents provide a “good and substantial reason” for carrying a handgun. As if protecting one’s life is not good and substantial enough.
With this denial, other states have now been given a green light to infringe on the right to self-defense and further disarm the citizenry.
Despite the court’s denial of cert, every human has the right to protect themselves. This is not a legal argument, but an acknowledgement that there is a moral authority that precedes Washington D.C. bureaucrats, judicial appointees included. The right to self-defense has existed before this country, before firearms, and will exist long after humans have devised better means to protect themselves. Guns are simply the best method of self-defense currently available.
Gun control is an unrealistic policy goal, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the advent of technology allowing anyone to make guns with little effort from the comfort of their own home. While the Court’s decision will still be felt by the citizens these laws scare into unarmed vulnerability, people who seek guns will still be able to get them.
Where gun ownership is a crime, citizens will have to become criminals to protect their life, liberty, and property. That could have a chilling effect. Once convicted, felons can lose their right to vote, their right to adopt children, and can lose parental rights with their biological children. The ability to travel, the ability to hold some jobs, the ability to live in certain neighborhoods, the ability to serve on a jury—all gone.
There is, however, some hope for the judiciary to arrive at the proper conclusion in the future. The Court noted in the order a “concern that some federal and state courts may not be properly applying” the Supreme Court’s decisions on the right to gun ownership. That may mean the denied cases simply weren’t asking the right question. But if the court is signaling that they are ready to take on some Second Amendment issue, the public is left to guess how much more clear the challenge must be to reach their standards and to wonder why the Court is avoiding doing the right thing now.
The justices should ensure that no state is allowed to infringe on a constitutionally enshrined fundamental human right. Moral appeals aside, how much more clearly should “shall not be infringed” have been stated in our founding document?
If the Court is waiting on the perfect question, they may believe they have a perfect answer. Until we discover that question, however, it seems even most of the conservative wing of the court is content to let self-defense play second fiddle to judicial convenience.