As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate two gun regulations and two amendments today that is largely an effort to get senators on the record, Senate heads for gun control showdown likely to go nowhere, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning once again upheld an assault weapon ban, despite the fantasy that Second Amendment absolutists cling to that guns may not be regulated. Justices decline to review Connecticut’s ‘assault weapons’ ban:
The Supreme Court declined Monday to review bans on a lengthy list of firearms that Connecticut classified as “assault weapons,” the latest example of the court’s reluctance to be drawn into an emotional national debate on gun control.
The justices decided without comment not to review a lower court decision that upheld the laws; Connecticut’s was enacted shortly after a gunman used one of the military-style semiautomatic weapons on the list to kill 20 students and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in 2012.
Like other laws, Connecticut’s ban includes semiautomatic guns and high-capacity magazines, and covers popular weapons such as AR-15s and AK-47s.
The decision was not a surprise, as the court has previously declined to review other court decisions that uphold bans passed by cities and states. Maryland, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, as well as many cities and towns, have similar laws. None of the legal challenges to them have been successful in lower courts.
They were enacted after a federal ban expired in 2004. Attempts to revive the federal ban have failed. But Congress is once again embroiled in a debate over gun control after the massacre at an Orlando nightclub left 49 victims dead.
Gun rights advocates have urged the court to review such bans, saying that they violate the court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that said individuals have a right to gun ownership for self-protection.
Justice Scalia’s 5-4 majority opinion in Heller rejected this broadly expansive argument. “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not 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, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.” District Of Columbia v. Heller (case summary).
When the court declined last December to review a lower court decision upholding such a ban, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia wrote that a similar law “flouts” the court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence. Scalia died in February.
The court’s action Monday continues a pattern. After recognizing the individual right for the first time in Heller, which covered the federal enclave of the District, the court made clear in a subsequent case that state and local governments, like Congress, could not prohibit individual gun ownership.
But since then, the justices have avoided all cases that might clarify whether that right is more expansive or which restrictions are too burdensome.
The lower court said the legislators in Connecticut were justified in banning the weapons.
The justices turned down a separate petition challenging New York’s law.
“Because the prohibitions are substantially related to the important governmental interests of public safety and crime reduction, they pass constitutional muster,” a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled.
The perverse ammosexual gun fetishists and the heretical gun worshipers all had a sad today. But no worries! The U.S. Senate will fail to act today out of cowardice to standing up to the merchants of death, and their lobbyists in the NRA and other so-called gun rights organizations.