Following yesterday’s announcement that the Supreme Court will not hear a case challenging a state law regulating the right to bear arms, one might wonder if the nine justices are simply fearful to rule that the Second Amendment right to bear arms actually does extend beyond the home, and too bad for people who don’t like that.
Yesterday’s decision was a disappointment to the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, which brought the Maryland case of Woollard v. Gallagher. But after also declining to hear the similar New York case of Kachalsky v. Cicace – another right-to-bear case challenging a discretionary permitting system – some gun rights activists are wondering whether the high court simply doesn’t want to take such a case because the outcome might capsize carry permit laws in several states.
While that seems highly unlikely, by turning down review on both cases, the court certainly opens the door wide for internet speculation that sometimes comes with tinfoil headgear.
Attorney Alan Gura and SAF’s Alan Gottlieb both reflected disappointment to the Washington Times, and noted there are other cases waiting in the wings for review. But between now and then, there may be opportunities for President Barack Obama to appoint another justice to the high court. Since both the Heller and McDonald rulings were thin 5-4 victories for Second Amendment advocates, there is always a concern that a leftward tilt on the court could have a devastating effect.
According to the Washington Times piece, Gura declined to speculate on why the Supremes decided not to review the Woollard case. It was a strong case, as he noted to the Associated Press, and it raised important questions about discretionary issue based on such things as needing a “good and substantial reason” to carry a defensive firearm. As this column noted yesterday, the authorities who turned down Woollard's carry permit renewal were all wet for suggesting that Raymond Woollard did not have a "good and substantial reason" for needing a firearm.
In his ruling in the Woollard case, U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg observed, “In addition to self-defense, the (Second Amendment) right was also understood to allow for militia membership and hunting. To secure these rights, the Second Amendment‘s protections must extend beyond the home: neither hunting nor militia training is a household activity, and ‘self-defense has to take place wherever [a] person happens to be’.”
“A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” Judge Legg also wrote. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”
In Moore v. Madigan, the celebrated Illinois case that forced Prairie State lawmakers to adopt a concealed carry statute after years of political two-step, Judge Richard Posner noted for the Seventh Circuit majority, “The right to ‘bear’ as distinct from the right to ‘keep’ arms is unlikely to refer to the home. To speak of ‘bearing’ arms within one’s home would at all times have been an awkward usage. A right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home.”
Later, Judge Posner added, “To confine the right to be armed to the home is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right of self-defense described in Heller and McDonald.”
Enshrining the Woollard and Moore logic into a Supreme Court ruling would topple decades of demagoguery in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, California, Hawaii and Massachusetts. Anti-gun bureaucrats and political police chiefs would no longer be able to deny law-abiding citizens the means of self-protection essentially on a whim.
Many in the gun rights movement think that would be a refreshing change to this country’s social environment.