Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was apoplectic over oral arguments that were scheduled to be held Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court.
He complained that the National Rifle Association, in an effort to wipe out “basic gun-safety laws around the country,” was “getting a hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.” “The stakes couldn’t be higher,” he warned. He is, of course, correct. Stakes are always high in cases before the Supreme Court. How high is a matter of perspective and emotional political intrigue among gun-rights and gun-control enthusiasts. It’s been 10 years since the court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of a properly licensed citizen to own a gun inside his own home for self-defense purposes. But while the court held that the Second Amendment confers the right to own a gun, the opinion authored by the late Justice Antonin Scalia made it clear that government at all levels retains the right to regulate. “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” he wrote.
It’s also been 10 years since the high court has heard a gun-rights case, leading some to contend that it has preferred to ignore the issue while lower federal courts have ignored the directions of its last ruling by sustaining strict — and potentially unconstitutional — limits on citizens’ rights to own a gun. The case justices heard this week is Exhibit A for that proposition. [full article]