Supporters of gun control and firearm safety measures hold a protest rally outside the US Supreme Court as the Court hears oral arguments in State Rifle and Pistol v. City of New York, NY, in Washington, DC, December 2, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
The Supreme Court on Monday said it will not hear appeals of a slew of cases involving gun laws, dealing a blow to Second Amendment activists who seek to expand the rights of gun owners.
In an order released Monday morning, the court denied petitions for appeals of 10 cases.
The cases rejected by the court involved questions of whether laws banning interstate handgun sales in some cases violate the Second Amendment, whether there is a constitutional right to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense, if Illinois and Massachusetts can ban assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines, and whether a state can limit handgun permits to people who demonstrate a specific need for self-defense.
The denials comes just weeks after the justices declined to issue a substantive opinion in its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade.
In that case, over a since-repealed New York City handgun regulation, the court said the controversy was no longer active because the measure had been amended by the city.
But several of the court’s conservatives, Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, wrote that they would still have sided with the gun owners challenging the law.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with the majority in the case, urged his colleagues to take another Second Amendment case “soon.”
The Supreme Court last weighed the reach of the Second Amendment in a pair of cases in 2008 and 2010 that established the individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense.
Gun rights activists have spent the decade since urging the justices to review whether laws imposing restrictions on carrying guns outside the home and on certain kinds of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are lawful.
Thomas, in a written dissent Monday, took issue with his colleagues on the Supreme Court rejecting the appeal of a New Jersey business owner, Thomas Rogers, who was challenging his state’s requirement that a person show “justifiable need” before being issued a handgun permit.
Rogers services automatic teller machines in “high-crime areas,” Thomas wrote, and wanted permission to carry a handgun for self-defense.
Thomas note that the Second Amendment protected ”‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,‘” but “in several jurisdictions throughout the country, law-abiding citizens have been barred from exercising the fundamental right to bear arms because they cannot show that they have a ‘justifiable need’ or ‘good reason’ for doing so.”
“One would think that such an onerous burden on a fundamental right would warrant this Court’s review,” Thomas wrote.
“This Court would almost certainly review the constitutionality of a law requiring citizens to establish a justifiable need before exercising their free speech rights,” he wrote.
“And it seems highly unlikely that the Court would allow a State to enforce a law requiring a woman to provide a justifiable need before seeking an abortion. But today, faced with a petition challenging just such a restriction on citizens’ Second Amendment rights, the Court simply looks the other way,” Thomas wrote.