The June ruling handed down by the Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen sent shock waves through the administration of Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. The decision declared the state’s gun permit procedures clearly violated the Second Amendment.
Victoria Taft at PJ Media wrote this week that the shockwaves from the ruling are likely to be felt not just in New York, but around the nation in far-reaching ways.
The majority opinion in Bruen written by Justice Clarence Thomas was premised on the finding that the New York law in question was similar to others that gave the right to carry a gun away from home second-class status.
That was especially true given the court’s finding that the rights protected by the Second Amendment are as fundamental to American civil life as any of the others listed in the Bill of Rights.
Justice Thomas pointed out that no other constitutional right is only available to a citizen if a government official determines there is some “special need” for it to be exercised. He wrote that the court has determined that is “not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
While the Bruen decision used broad language, it did not specifically address background checks, training requirements, or restrictions against gun possession by legally disqualified persons. Those issues and many others will be litigated in courts around the country now using the standard set out by Justice Thomas.
Attorney Mike Davis heads up the Article III Project and said that multiple issues that arise under federal, state, and local laws now must be measured by a “strict scrutiny” standard after Bruen. That standard means the government carries the burden of showing that regulations meet the same exacting requirements that speech or religious practice restrictions face.
He said that scrutiny will now apply to laws regulating magazine sizes, semiautomatic rifle restrictions, and outright bans on weapons.
Pennsylvania attorney Dillon Harris works with the Civil Rights Defense Firm and agrees that Bruen now demands all types of gun restrictions must now satisfy strict scrutiny. He noted that many courts had previously used an “intermediate scrutiny” test to analyze firearms regulations. The strict scrutiny standard is a much more stringent test for the validity of the regulation of protected rights.
Harris added that all the lawsuits about firearms regulations that were underway when Bruen was handed down must now restart with the rule set out by Justice Thomas as the controlling law.
Many experts now believe that the “text, history and tradition” standard set out by Justice Thomas in the context of strict scrutiny will eventually lead to “constitutional carry” everywhere in the U.S., meaning no permits will be required.
Years of litigation is certain to come on all sorts of regulations, but Justice Thomas has reset the table in favor of civil rights, the Constitution, and the American people.