Supreme Court reopens gun cases on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
California, Maryland, New Jersey and Hawaii appeals courts to rehear cases and follow Second Amendment text and American history
While the Supreme Court ruling to overturn New York’s stringent conceal carry law is making the biggest impact on gun laws around the country now, the justices ruled on four other critical Second Amendment cases this week.
The lower courts that have allowed so-called assault weapon bans, high-capacity magazine bans and restricted carry laws were told to rehear these cases with stricter constitutional standards for our right to keep and bear arms.
I put links in my sources at the bottom to all these cases, their legal backers and details on the parties.
Specifically, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded cases back to Maryland, California, New Jersey and Hawaii “for further consideration in light of New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen.”
A new day for courts and gun laws
I asked Alan Gottlieb, who runs the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), for legal analysis. Gottlieb’s group was a plaintiff back in Heller and now in the Maryland case about a ban on so-called assault weapons. Gottlieb told me:
The Supreme Court ruling in Bruen really helps us in these cases because it eliminated the manufactured “two step" approach to defining the level of scrutiny and replaced it with a history and text approach.
In the Bruen decision last week, Justice Clarence Thomas ordered the appeals courts to follow the landmark Heller and McDonald cases — which were based on the text of the Constitution and the history of gun laws — and stop trying to determine if there is some public interest in restricting the Second Amendment. Thomas wrote:
the government must affirmatively prove that its firearms regulation is part of the historical tradition that delimits the outer bounds of the right to keep and bear arms.
I linked to the Bruen at the bottom and hope you get a chance to read through what Thomas and the other justices are ordering every state court to do now.
California: high-capacity magazine ban
You’ll remember I wrote back in Dec. 2021 after the Ninth Circuit upheld the magazine ban in Duncan v. Bonta that
the liberal court’s decision to uphold the state’s ban on magazines that have more than 10 rounds could lead to the Supreme Court ending this pointless gun-control law.
I was wrong that the high court would eliminate it directly, but by remanding it back, the liberals on the Ninth Circuit will have to find a way to put banning ammunition holders that can carry more than 10 rounds in historical context. Good luck with that.
Interestingly, the dissent in that ruling, from a judge appointed by Pres. Donald Trump, essentially begged the Supreme Court to tell the lower courts what is constitutional for Second Amendment cases. Well, now they have it.
The case is backed by the NRA, which said in a statement:
This is a good result that effectively gives us a second and better shot at winning the cases.
The NRA is also backing the New Jersey case ANJRPC v. Bruck which will now go back to the Third Circuit to rehear the challenge to its high-capacity magazine laws
Maryland: assault weapon ban
The case Bianchi, Dominic, et.al. v. Frosh will go back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be reheard. The SAF and the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) are plaintiffs challenging a ban on rifles that have certain cosmetic features, aka “assault weapons.”
FPC Policy Counsel Matthew Larosiere said:
“We have suffered at the hands of government actors who felt empowered by a lack of clear standards from the Supreme Court.
All too often, horrible restrictions which threaten jail time for simply owning a common type of arm – one the people have an undeniable right to – were allowed to stand. This case presents one of the first opportunities to give force to our right to these common firearms, and we intend to see it through.”
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