Leonardo Angiulo: U.S. Supreme Court Renews 2nd Amendment Debate
Monday, February 10, 2014
The argument made by the National Rifle Association, aka the NRA, in their case against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as their case against the State of Texas, addresses two main issues. First, the NRA argues that restricting Licenses to Carry to people 21 or older is improper because anecdotal evidence that people aged 18, 19 and 20 are less responsible than older people isn't enough to restrict a constitutional right. The other, and broader reaching, argument is about exactly what the word “and” means.
The Second Amendment states that there is a right to keep “and” bear arms. The Supreme Court has previously defined bearing arms in the case of Heller v. District of Columbia to include wearing or carrying firearms upon the person to be ready for offensive or defense conflict with another person. Noted in the NRA's petition is discussion of how different states have dealt with the regulation and litigation of licenses to carry firearms in different ways. Resolving disputes over how laws are applied in different jurisdictions is something that the highest court is good at. The NRA is essentially asking the Supreme Court to say what people's rights are and make sure that they are applied equally across the country.
In responding to the NRA's petition, the State of Texas also filed a brief. Their argument is that this case shouldn't be brought by the NRA at this time for technical reasons, but also because they claim their age based restrictions are appropriate.
Exactly what the statute in question says is one of the few things the parties agree on. In Texas, like many other states, 18 year-olds can own firearms, but they are not allowed to lawfully carry firearms in public until they are 21 unless they are in, or were lawfully discharged from, the military. Interestingly, people in this age group are allowed to have firearms at home, in their car or on their boat regardless of whether they've served or not.
If the Supreme Court chooses to take up this issue, the Justices would have the opportunity to answer some important questions about who can carry firearms and what appeals will look like if a license is denied. Since the court has already ruled in the cases of Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald v. Chicago to grant broad rights of firearm ownership in the home this latest round of cases is a logical next step for their analysis. Whether the Supreme Court accepts the broad scope of “the right to carry” proposed by the NRA is yet to be seen.
The Influence of Gun Money in New England States
New Data from The Sunlight Foundation shows state-by-state breakdowns for donations to groups on both sides of the gun debate. The money went toward candidates, political parties, and political action committees (PACs), but doesn't include donations to independent or so-called “super PACs”.
See how much money went to candidates in each of the New England States in the slides below.
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