Giffords Law Center Responds to Announcement that Supreme Court Will Hear its First Second Amendment Case
Since Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett
San Francisco, CA — Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence responded to the Supreme Court’s announcement this morning that it will hear a case challenging New York’s concealed carry licensing law, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett. This will be the Court’s first Second Amendment case since the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and is poised to be the first major Second Amendment ruling from the Supreme Court in over a decade (after another case was dismissed as moot a year ago).
Hannah Shearer, Litigation Director at Giffords Law Center:
“Over the past month, Americans have reckoned with a never-ending series of shootings in public places, including shootings by law enforcement. This onslaught of tragedies comes in the wake of a year in which we saw a dramatic increase in annual gun deaths. The Supreme Court’s willingness to take up this case is a reckless response to our nation’s grief and could take us in the completely wrong direction by restricting commonsense gun safety regulation. Today’s announcement is a warning sign that our nation’s highest court is poised to brush aside the will of the people and instead side with gun lobby groups seeking to eliminate even the most modest firearm laws. Such an extreme decision would be out of step with Second Amendment precedent, historical evidence, and the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans. We urge the Supreme Court to reject those dangerous arguments and instead protect recent progress toward gun safety reform.”
While the Supreme Court has not issued a ruling on the merits in a major case involving gun rights for over a decade, the federal lower courts have been very active. They have developed a consistent and effective approach to interpreting the constitutionality of gun safety laws that protects both rights and public safety. The plaintiffs in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett are asking the Supreme Court to throw out this approach and replace it with a new test that is harder for judges to apply and prevents them from considering public safety needs when evaluating Second Amendment challenges.
The outlook does not look good for gun safety laws at the Supreme Court: four justices have previously signaled hostility to gun safety laws and shown they are open to devising a new interpretation of the Second Amendment that limits widely accepted gun regulations. If, as expected, Justice Barrett also holds this view, the Court could issue a radical Second Amendment ruling that jeopardizes future progress as well as lifesaving gun laws already on the books. This includes New York’s concealed carry licensing law and similar laws in place in eight other states and Washington DC, but also a wide range of other local, state, and federal gun safety measures that have previously been upheld against gun lobby challenges.
Throughout the administration of former President Trump, Giffords Law Center raised the alarm about the gun lobby’s repeated attempts to undermine gun safety laws and its efforts to push the confirmation of judges who would advance their cause. Groups like the NRA have long promoted a false narrative that even the most modest, commonsense gun safety laws infringe on individual rights. Until now, most judges—including many appointed by Republican presidents—have rejected that extreme stance. But now that the justices have voted to take the Corlett case, the next Supreme Court term will reveal whether the nation’s highest Court will acknowledge the historical prevalence of gun safety laws and side with the mainstream views of most judges, or will instead adopt the outlier position that the Second Amendment is an obstacle to lifesaving gun safety regulations.
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