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SCOTUS declines to take Drake challenge to New Jersey CCW law

The Supreme Court once again turned down a chance to rule on a case dealing with carrying defensive firearms outside the home.
The Supreme Court once again turned down a chance to rule on a case dealing with carrying defensive firearms outside the home.
Dave Workman

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning denied certiorari in a case challenging the arbitrary nature of New Jersey’s concealed carry permitting scheme, leaving gun rights activists fuming and convinced the high court is afraid to address the issue of carrying firearms outside the home for personal protection.

The court does not give a reason for the denial, but this leaves a gaping hole in the Second Amendment’s affirmation and protection of the right to keep and bear arms, activists argue. It is the third time the high court has turned down an opportunity to review a concealed carry case, thus leaving open the question about how restrictive a state’s regulation on bearing arms can be.

Plaintiffs in the case of Drake v. Jerejian were the Second Amendment Foundation and Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. Attorney Alan Gura, representing both groups, expressed disappointment this morning via e-mail.

“It’s disappointing,” Gura said, “but courts are still uncomfortable with the concept of Second Amendment rights. Look at the Palmer challenge to DC’s carry ban, pending since October 6, 2009, without a district court decision.”

He noted that four judges in the Third Circuit wanted to revisit the decision on Drake. Unfortunately, he added, "we needed four justices."

ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach, also via e-mail, said, “Naturally, we are very disappointed. We believe this is a good case, and we believe in the issue. At some point, the question of bearing arms for personal protection outside the home must be addressed.”

Previous rulings in the 2008 Heller and 2010 McDonald cases affirmed the right to have a gun in the home for self-defense. However, the states are divided in how they regulate the carrying of defensive arms outside the home. Most states have “shall issue” licensing laws, but a handful of states, most notably New Jersey and Maryland, still cling to a restrictive licensing scheme under which hardly anyone is granted a carry license.

Today’s decision comes on the heels of Friday’s monthly update by the Washington State Department of Licensing that the number of active concealed pistol licenses has climbed to 457,344, up more than 3,100 CPLs from last month. Across the country, there are now more than 11 million citizens licensed to carry, according to the latest estimate from veteran researcher John Lott, Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of “More Guns = Less Crime.”

Reaction to the court’s apparent reluctance to review the Drake case range from astonishment to anger. One comment on the SCOTUS.Blog website suggested that the high court simply does not want to take another Second Amendment case.

It is fair, gun activists contend, to ask “why not?” The Second Amendment needs full clarification, especially when anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg is spending a fortune to erode it with a state-by-state effort dubbed “Everytown for Gun Safety.” This $50 million so-called “grassroots” effort will likely concentrate considerable energy in Washington State this year to pass Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure ostensibly billed as a “universal background check” package.

A genuine grassroots effort is behind Initiative 591, which protects background checks done in compliance with a uniform national standard. That measure also blocks government gun confiscations without due process.

There may be other cases on the horizon, but for now, Second Amendment activists will be fuming. They will also be looking at the November mid-term elections, with a new understanding about the importance of elections, particularly in state legislatures where restrictive gun laws can be amended, repealed or replaced.