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Leonardo Angiulo: U.S. Supreme Court Renews 2nd Amendment Debate

Monday, February 10, 2014

 

Two cases that may further shape the scope of the http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html " target="_blank">Second Amendment are before the U.S. Supreme Court, bringing this topic to the forefront of the national discussion yet again. The two new cases include lawsuits involving the National Rifle Association versus the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in one and the http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfiles/13-390.htm" target="_blank">State of Texas in the other. The National Rifle Assocation is trying to build from cases tried in 2008 and 2010 that identified the terms of the second amendment as granting an individual right to arms for self defense. As I mentioned in a previous column these rights can be restricted for historical and safety based reasons but are most definitely afforded to each one of us.

The argument made by the National Rifle Association, aka the NRA, in their case against the http://www.nraila.org/media/11790416/petition_for_cert.pdf" target="_blank">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.

 

Leonardo Angiulo is an Attorney with the firm of Glickman, Sugarman, Kneeland & Gribouski in Worcester handling legal matters across the Commonwealth. He can be reached by email at langiulo@gmail.com.

 

Related Slideshow: 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.

Prev Next

Rhode Island

State Candidates

Control $: 0

Rights $: 229650

Federal Candidates

Control $: 19557

Rights $: 5612

Prev Next

Massachusetts

State Candidates

Control $: 2850

Rights $: 20538

Federal Candidates

Control $: 54058

Rights $: 104579

Prev Next

Maine

State Candidates

Control $: 8325

Rights $: 51700

Federal Candidates

Control $: 27318

Rights $: 142505

Prev Next

Connecticut

State Candidates

Control $: 4076

Rights $: 56200

Federal Candidates

Control $: 43666

Rights $: 121596

Prev Next

Vermont

State Candidates

Control $: 0

Rights $: 40330

Federal Candidates

Control $: 4500

Rights $: 7550

Prev Next

New Hampshire

State Candidates

Control $: 1500

Rights $: 22475

Federal Candidates

Control $: 34337

Rights $: 293560

 
 

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