Americans Against Gun Violence Condemns Supreme Court Ruling that New York’s Requirement for Special Permit to Carry Concealed Handguns Violates the Second Amendment
Sacramento California, September June 23, 2022: Americans Against Gun Violence condemns the 6-3 ruling issued by the Supreme Court today in the case of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen (NYSRPA v. Bruen) that New York’s requirement for a special permit to carry a concealed handgun violates the Second Amendment.
As egregiously flawed and dangerous as this decision is, it was not unexpected. Three of the justices in the Bruen majority (Roberts, Thomas, and Alito) were members of the narrow, five justice majority in the Supreme Court’s rogue 2008 Heller decision, in which the Court reversed over two centuries of legal precedent, including four prior Supreme Court opinions, in ruling that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to own guns unrelated to service in a “well regulated militia.” The other three justices in the Bruen majority (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett) were all nominated by Donald Trump, who promised assembled NRA members at their annual convention in 2017 that he would “never, ever” let them down.
The Second Amendment states, in its entirety, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The history and text of the Second Amendment clearly demonstrate that the Amendment was intended to confer a collective right for citizen militias to possess weapons of war for the common defense, not an individual right to own guns for personal use, much less an individual right to carry concealed handguns. (See the discussion, “Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to own a gun unrelated to service in a “well regulated militia?” on the Facts and FAQ’s page of this website for a detailed discussion of this topic.)
The majority opinion in NYSRPA v. Bruen, written by Justice Thomas, and the concurring opinions by Justices Alito and Kavanaugh, make 123 references to the Heller decision as binding precedent concerning the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment. The Heller decision has been described by respected authorities as “gun rights propaganda passing as scholarship” and as “evidence of the ability of well-staffed courts to produce snow jobs.” In his autobiography, the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens described the Heller decision as “unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Court announced during my
Americans Against Gun Violence filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the NYSRPA v. Bruen case in support of New York’s concealed carry laws. In our brief, we also discussed some of the more egregious flaws in the Heller decision, upon which the gun lobby based its case, and we noted that the Heller decision was worse than even the above harsh criticisms might indicate. In creating a constitutional obstacle, where none previously existed, to the adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws in the other high income countries of the world – countries in which mass shootings occur rarely, if ever, and in which the rate of gun related deaths is, on average, one tenth the rate in the United States – Heller is literally a death sentence for tens of thousands of American annually. In our amicus brief, Americans Against Gun Violence called on the Supreme Court to not only rule in the NYSRPA v. Bruen case that restrictions on carrying concealed handguns were constitutional, but to take the opportunity of this case to reverse the Heller decision. Instead, the Bruen majority compounded the egregious errors and expanded the deadly consequences of the Heller decision.
More than 30 amicus briefs were filed in support of New York State’s concealed handgun laws in the NYSRPA v. Bruen case, including briefs filed on behalf of some of the country’s best known gun violence prevention organizations. Americans Against Gun Violence was the only organization, though, to file a brief that openly stated that the Heller decision was wrongly decided and should be overturned.
Until the fraudulent notion that the Second Amendment was intended to confer an individual right to own guns and gun related paraphernalia is overturned in the court of public opinion, we should expect the Supreme Court to continue to expand the constitutional right that it created in Heller, including by ruling that laws governing civilian ownership of assault weapons and large capacity magazines violate the Second Amendment. We should also expect the number of annual gun related deaths in our country to continue to rise, and we shouldn’t be surprised when the next horrific mass shooting occurs.
Americans Against Gun Violence urges other organizations and individuals to join us in educating the American public and policy makers concerning the fact that the Second Amendment was never intended to confer an individual right to own guns; in demanding that the Supreme Court reverse the Heller decision and its progeny, including the NYSRPA v. Bruen decision; and in demanding that Congress adopt stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in other high income democratic countries of the world.
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US (Supreme Court 2008).
United States v. Cruikshank, 92 US 542 (Supreme Court 1876); Presser v. Illinois, 116 US (Supreme Court 1886); U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) (n.d.); Lewis v. United States, No. 55 (U.S. 1980).
Michele Gorman, “Full Transcript: President Trump’s Speech Fires up the NRA,” Newsweek, April 28, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-full-transcript-atlanta-592039.
Saul Cornell, “Originalism on Trial: The Use and Abuse of History in District of Columbia v. Heller,” Ohio State Law Journal 69 (2008): 629.
Richard Posner, “In Defense of Looseness,” The New Republic 239, no. 3 (August 27, 2008): 35.
John Paul Stevens, The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years (New York: Little, Brown, 2019), 482.
Stevens, 483; Warren Burger, PBS News Hour, December 16, 1991, c..
Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, “Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-Income OECD Countries, 2010,” The American Journal of Medicine 129, no. 3 (March 1, 2016): 266–73, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.025.