Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Supreme Court justices have other firearms cases in their sights

By 37ci3 Jun22,2024



WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday upheld the law prohibits domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms — a rare victory for gun control advocates — doesn’t mean it will stop others from shooting. gun restrictions.

There are several pending cases the court could hear over the next week that will provide further signs of how eager the conservative majority is to continue a long campaign to reshape the scope of the right to bear arms.

How the court approaches those cases will determine whether Friday’s decision is an outlier or a sign that it is retreating from a broad understanding of the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The surge in gun rights activism stems from the court’s relatively recent acceptance of the right to bear arms, first articulated in a 2008 decision but significantly expanded in 2022.

In the last decision – it is called a case New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen — the court said gun restrictions must be analyzed based on the historical understanding of the right to bear arms. That sparked a new wave of challenges to well-established gun restrictions, including the domestic violence ban at issue in Friday’s ruling. United States v. Rahimi.

In a recent decision, the court favored a so-called “history and tradition” test for reviewing gun restrictions, but stepped back somewhat from the hardline approach of the Bruen decision. In fact, Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in the Bruen case, was the only justice who said Friday that they would rule that the federal domestic violence law is unconstitutional.

But it remains to be seen how the court will treat other gun restrictions, all of which must be analyzed based on whether or not there is some sort of historical analogue.

Gun control advocates took some solace in the latest ruling, with Esther Sanchez-Gomez, director of litigation at the Giffords Law Center, saying it shows “common sense must still rule the day.”

He added that the ruling “gives me hope” that the court will uphold other gun restrictions in future cases.

Andrew Willinger, executive director of the Firearms Law Center at Duke University Law School, said the Rahimi decision was narrow and did not dictate the outcome of other gun cases.

“In a sense, the court is committed to addressing a number of other issues in the coming years,” he said.

Among the cases the court may hear in the coming days are a challenge to a federal law that bars nonviolent felons from possessing guns, and another that prohibits people who use illegal drugs from owning firearms.

The latest case involves the same criminal law that President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was recently involved in. Convicted in Delaware. Thus, any Supreme Court decision finalizing the law may, in certain circumstances, undermine the right to bear arms, or aid it.

The nonviolent crime case involves a Pennsylvania man named Bryan Range, who was convicted in 1995 of perjury to obtain food stamps. The conviction disqualified him from owning a gun under federal law, prompting him to sue the government, alleging that his right to bear arms had been violated.

The case, with closet similarities to Hunter Biden’s concerns, involved Patrick Daniels, who was stopped by police in Mississippi in April 2022 and found with marijuana, a loaded handgun and a loaded rifle.

In both cases, the Biden administration appealed after losing in lower courts, where the justices cited a 2022 Supreme Court decision that ruled in favor of gun owners.

The court can decide to hear either or both cases, or send them back to lower courts for further analysis, according to Rahimi’s decision.

If the court were to hear the cases, based on what the court said in the Rahimi decision, there is no guarantee they would both come out the same.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts focused in part on a finding that domestic abuser Zackey Rahimi was a “credible threat to the physical safety of others.” He also emphasized that the ban is temporary.

Clark Neily, a lawyer with the libertarian gun-rights Cato Institute, said the cases of non-violent offenders and drug users present very different questions in both cases, including whether the defendants pose a danger to others.

“These are different restrictions on gun ownership in the sense that the characteristics of someone who is an illegal drug user are different than the characteristics of someone who has been convicted of a felony,” he said.

As for Hunter Biden, who was convicted of one count of violating gun laws by obtaining a gun as a drug user and two counts of perjury that he bought a gun from a gun dealer, legal experts say Rahimi’s sentence could help him. in the appeal, it is considered a chance to eliminate the chance to keep a weapon.

Biden’s lawyers had filed a lawsuit arguing that his gun trial should be postponed until the Rahimi case, and potentially all others, are decided, and predicted that the outcome of the Rahimi case could provide “guidance” to the judge presiding over the case.

Willinger said Biden could use the appeal ruling, pointing to the high court’s focus on Rahimi’s violent behavior — something that was not at issue in the Biden case.

“You can imagine Hunter Biden’s lawyers making a strong case that distinguishes his case from this case,” Willinger said.

The shopping list of gun cases a court can choose from is not limited to non-violent crime and drug user issues.

Adam Kraut, executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation, which advocates for gun rights, said he hopes the court will move away from cases like Rahimi’s, which focused on who is prohibited from owning guns, and focused on laws that prohibit specific types of guns and gun possession. certain places.

Among the motions pending in court are a challenge to a New York law that, among other things, prohibits the possession of guns in certain “sensitive locations” and another case aimed at banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity weapons in Illinois. magazines.

Kraut said if the court hears one of these cases, it would be another step forward for gun rights.



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