The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday announced they will be hearing their first Second Amendment case in more than a decade. The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, will force the Court to decide whether or not Americans can be forced to prove the “need” to carry a firearm for self-defense.
Under New York law, a person must apply for a permit to carry but he or she must prove “proper cause” exists. New York is a “may issue” state, meaning it’s up to local law enforcement agencies – generally sheriffs departments – to determine whether or not a person’s “need” to carry a firearm is valid.
This case is a follow-up to two other landmark Second Amendment cases: McDonald v. Chicago and District of Columbia v. Heller.
About the Heller decision
In the 2008 landmark Heller decision, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that “the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
D.C. Special Police Officer Dick Heller brought the case before the Court because he believed the District’s gun control laws were unconstitutional. At the time, D.C. prohibited residents from possessing handguns and carrying unregistered firearms. Heller applied for registration but was denied. The reason? D.C. prohibited handguns from being registered.
The other area of concern was the District’s law requiring gun owners to keep their registered long guns unloaded and disassembled or bound with a trigger lock, unless they were utilized at a place of business or used for recreational activities.
“As we have said, the law totally bans handgun possession in the home. It also requires that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock at all times, rendering it inoperable,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. “As the quotations earlier in this opinion demonstrate, the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right. The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose. The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute.”
“Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from the home ‘the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,’ would fail constitutional muster,” he concluded.
About the McDonald decision
The 2010 landmark McDonald decision reaffirmed the Heller decision. The Supreme Court concluded in a 5-4 decision that the “Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms in self defense applies against state and local governments as well as the federal government.”
McDonald challenged Chicago’s gun control laws that were similar to those addressed in the Heller decision. The city of Chicago and the suburb of Oak Park argued their gun control laws were constitutional because the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to states. The High Court disagreed.
“We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States. Applying the standard that is well established in our case law, we hold that the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion.
About the Corlett case
When looking at concealed carry permits, there are two types of states: “may issue” and “shall issue.”
According to NPR, in a handful of states – California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York – a person applying for a permit to carry must prove they have a need to carry. Based on the applicant’s reasoning, local law enforcement agencies can approve or deny an application, even if he or she passes a background check and has an understandable need.
The remaining states are “shall issue” states, meaning a local sheriff will approve a person’s permit to carry concealed as long as he or she passes a comprehensive background check. Some states have other requirements, like taking an instructional class and passing a range test. As long as those requirements are met, the applicant is granted a permit to carry.
In the Corlett case, two of the petitioners, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, were denied carry permits because of New York’s “may issue” stance.
“Nash, for instance, requested to carry a handgun for self-defense after a string of robberies in his neighborhood. But he was denied because he did not demonstrate a special need for self-defense. Koch wanted a similar license, and he was able to cite his experience of participating in safety training courses,” CNN reported. “He too was denied.”
The petitioners argued the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to carry a firearm outside of the home. They believe New York’s “proper cause” tramples on their Second Amendment rights.
“A small minority persists in denying the right to typical law-abiding citizens, instead of reserving self-defense rights to the small subset of individuals whom the state deems worthy,” they argue. “New York is illustrative: It curtails fundamental, individuals self-defense rights. The governmental insistence upon a unique showing of need ignores that the Second Amendment broadly guarantees rights to all ‘the people.’”
Why it matters
This case could have a dramatic impact on a number of states, especially gun control havens like California, New Jersey, and New York. Should the Court follow prior precedent and rule along the lines of Heller and MacDonald, Second Amendment rights could be expanded for millions of Americans.
Beth Baumann is a Political Reporter and Editor at The Daily Wire. Follow her on Twitter @eb454.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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