Comments on NYSRPA v Bruen by Tom Reynolds
After the oral arguments on NYSRPA v Bruen, 2nd Amendment supporters were very optimistic about a victory. Then, one of our concerns shifted to how narrow or broad the decision might be; we were hoping for Justice Thomas to write the opinion as we anticipated a broad decision from him. We were not disappointed. He not only dealt with the lawsuit issues but clarified and reinforced several issues.
It’s important to remember that the 2nd Amendment codified an existing right. It did not create a right. It protects that right.
There were two previous 2nd Amendment cases that impacted gun rights and this latest case: District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. The Heller decision applied to the District of Columbia’s gun laws, so some liberal states said it did not apply to them. McDonald said Heller’s positions did apply to all the states.
In Heller, there are 5 main points which are important to note since they disagree with Democrat talking points and this NYSRPA v Bruen decision reinforced them:
- · The 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. Individual self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment right and that theme was repeated in the NYSRPA decision (It’s not just for hunting.)
- · The right of the people to keep and bear Arms does not depend on service in the militia.
- · The reference to “arms” does not apply only to those arms in existence in the 18th century. (If it only applied to 18th century arms, would the 1st Amendment not apply to TV, radio and the internet?)
- · It made legal the possession and use of handguns, but it referenced the home. (The left and NYS jumped on this and wanted Heller & McDonald to only apply to guns in the home, which necessitated the NYSRPA lawsuit.)
- · It rejected any interest-balancing inquiry, what we might call it a Cost Benefit or social cost analysis. (This is very important. More on it later.)
- · An individual who wants to carry a pistol or revolver outside his home must obtain an unrestricted license (concealed carry). (To NYC, bearing arms meant only carrying between the living room and the kitchen.)
- · And getting an unrestricted license was the “Catch 22”. The unrestricted applicant had to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.” (Very subjective! Celebrities qualified but blacks living in high crime areas did not qualify.)
In New York and other left leaning states, legislatures ignored the Heller & McDonald decisions when passing new laws and governors enforced existing laws that went against the decisions. Liberal judges often ignored the decisions.
NY City’s gun licensing procedures had two controversial things that were addressed in the NYSRPA decision:
The lawsuit began when two NYC residents, who are NYSRPA members, were denied unrestricted permits. They sued. As members, this gave NYSRPA legal standing in the suit. And they lost all along the way…until the Supreme Court.
SCOTUS held that New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Constitution by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense. SCOTUS added that the definition of “bear” naturally encompasses public carry.
SCOTUS (Justice Thomas) then went further:
Some lower court judges were ignoring the wording of the 2nd Amendment and deciding cases on the social impact of the law – as the judge saw it. SCOTUS threw out this cost-benefit analysis used by some courts and said: The Second Amendment does not permit, “judges to assess the costs and benefits of firearms restrictions. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all.”
And to further drive a nail into some liberal talking points, SCOTUS said that the Founders created a Constitution whose meaning is fixed according to the understandings of those who ratified it. The Constitution can, and must, apply to circumstances beyond those the Founders specifically anticipated.
In a concurring opinion, Justices Kavanaugh and Roberts tried to settle some other issues and cut off likely liberal disinformation: “[N]othing in our opinion, should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings…"
To close a door on those who wanted to declare all of NY City a “sensitive place”, SCOTUS said that effort lacks merit because there is no historical basis for New York to effectively declare the island of Manhattan a “sensitive place” simply because it is crowded and protected generally by the New York City Police Department.
The three liberal judges dissented on the decision but, like the oral arguments, they could not find constitutional grounds so they reverted to what might generally be called emotional and social issues.
Justice Alito criticized the three dissenters, stating "Much of the dissent seems designed to obscure the specific question that the Court has decided."
Having lost in the Supreme Court, liberals will continue indirect attacks on 2A. Expect:
The permitting process will become more bureaucratic and time consuming and will include more training, marksmanship standards and already includes a 5 year license renewal. In addition, there may be psychological exams to get a license.
Gun owners will be attacked financially. There is currently a proposed federal law requiring an annual payment of $800 for liability insurance by all owners and another proposal for a 1,000% tax on sales of firearms.
Both gun owners and legal gun sellers will see states use their regulatory power to prevent access to banks, credit and insurance.
Legal gun sellers will see more stringent audits by BATFE and NY State, where they could lose their license over minor paperwork errors. In addition, NY State now requires increased security measures which will be very expensive and cumbersome.
So, let’s celebrate a well deserved win but, tomorrow, we need to get back to work defending 2A.
And don’t forget to vote in the primaries – TODAY.