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Guns: SCOTUS May Have Just Tossed Its Own Rules

Monday, June 26, 2017 — We’ve been disappointed before. Giving power to the United States Supreme Court to decide the tenets of the Constitution is an exercise in patience, if nothing else.  Today, the SCOTUS declined to take up two significant cases involving guns. Rather than reviewing for the nth time the details of the two cases, Peruta v San Diego County and a case supported by the Trump Administration about two men with misdemeanors who were denied gun rights, it may be more prudent to look a little deeper into the court’s decision. For the court to review a case, the details of which are exhaustively reviewed by court clerks before being presented to the justices, requires four justices in agreement to hear the case. Both Justice Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, as could be expected, dissented with the court’s decision. Surprisingly, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg agreed to hear the case. That’s the four. So what happened?

It’s hard to tell, so conjecture may be the best we can get at present. Without doubt, guns are perhaps the heaviest constitutional issue SCOTUS justices face, and the most nationally debated. A plethora of regulations, from cities, counties, and states coupled with political ideologies of the electoral masses have to be considered. Add to that the pursuit of remedies by not just the NRA but President Trump and a new Justice Department are far too byzantine to politely dismiss. Add to that the creeping consideration of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act which is still on the Congressional docket and it might be easier to understand why a conservative Court would prefer to postpone any decision which may become moot if the CCRA is passed.

Simply stated, the court just ran out of time. It will convene again in October. By then, we hope, the CCRA will have been decided, for or against, and for a variety of reasons not just limited to whether you’re for or against the Act but how it will affect places like New York City which has long battled to control criminal violence with guns, finding some success via the city’s short-lived Stop and Frisk campaign. Guns are such an emotional and numerical (330 million guns among about a third of the total U.S. population) issue that haste resulting in a wrong constitutional issue is too critical and valuable to just conveniently dismiss. So, if patience really is a virtue, there’s no vice in waiting just a little longer. Which goes to prove that you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Until the court makes up its mind.

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