The Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up several cases regarding the scope of the Second Amendment.
Despite a low hurdle for the right-leaning Supreme Court, the justices turned down petitions from 10 challenges to state laws established to limit the availability and accessibility of some firearms and when they can be carried in public.
It’s been over a decade since 2008’s landmark 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v Heller that held the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense. Except for a follow-up decision two years later, the court has not weighed in on Second Amendment rights significantly again.
Five of the 10 cases the court declined to look at asked the justices to determine whether the Second Amendment allows the government to restrict the ability of citizens to carry a firearm outside the home to those with “good cause” or “justifiable need” to do so. Two of the cases were high-profile challenges to state laws involving bans on certain semiautomatic firearms and high capacity magazines, one from Illinois and one from Massachusetts. The remaining three cases had a narrower scope, but none of the 10 will be argued before the justices.
Jacob Charles, the executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School, said the court’s decision to deny all of the pending Second Amendment petitions came as a surprise.
“The petitions denied today presented some of the biggest open questions in Second Amendment law, including what types of weapons the Constitution protects and how and whether the right extends outside the home,” Charles said. “For now, it appears that a majority of the Court is content to let these issues be sorted out by the lower courts.”
Three of the nine justices have been vocal in recent years about their desire for the court to take up a Second Amendment case. Last month, Justice Brett Kavanaugh expressed his concern that lower courts have been thumbing their noses at Supreme Court precedent on the Second Amendment, saying the court should “address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court.”
Justice Clarence Thomas in 2018 complained that the lower courts were treating the Second Amendment right “cavalierly.”
Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of pro-gun safety organization Brady: United Against Gun Violence, said the court’s decision not to hear any of the Second Amendment cases is “well-reasoned”
“Today’s decision is welcome, but we are vigilant that there remains a concerted effort to reverse it and undermine our nation’s hard-earned progress in instituting common-sense gun safety measures and that those arguments have found sympathy with several of the Justices,” Lowy said in a statement to CNN.
This story has been updated.