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Supreme Court Remands Gun Cases to Lower Courts

Government

A gavel on a court desk. | Image by Alex Staroseltsev, Shutterstock

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Following the historic Supreme Court decision expanding individual gun rights on June 23, a number of other gun control appeals cases have been remanded to the lower courts for reconsideration, including Maryland’s ban on assault-style rifles and New Jersey’s and California’s bans on large-capacity ammunition magazines.

New York State’s restrictions on carrying concealed firearms outside the home were overturned by a 6-3 ruling on June 23, with the conservative justices in the majority and the liberal justices in dissent. The law, passed in 1913, was ruled by the Court to violate the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to “keep and bear arms.”


“New Yorkers will soon be able to defend themselves outside of their homes without first having to prove that they have a sufficient ‘need’ to exercise their fundamental rights,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Institute for Legislative Action. The ruling, he said, “opens the door to rightly change the law” in a half-dozen other states “that still don’t recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection.”

The decision also clarified how courts must now judge whether restrictions are legitimate under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, calling for them to be comparable with limitations that have typically been enacted throughout American history. 

Other rulings maintaining the bans on firearm magazines containing more than ten rounds of ammunition in New Jersey and California were ordered back to lower courts by the justices. State chapters of the NRA filed the lawsuits in those cases.

A lower court judgment upholding Hawaii’s ban on openly carrying weapons in public as valid under the Second Amendment was also remanded by the Supreme Court.

Lower courts that had upheld Maryland’s ban on “highly dangerous, military-style assault rifles” will have to revisit their rulings. 

Maryland adopted the prohibition after a shooter used one of these weapons to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

“On a day when the U.S. Senate is about to pass historic, bipartisan gun safety legislation that will save lives, the current Supreme Court has issued a decision that will likely put more lives at risk,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) said of the Supreme Court’s June 23 ruling. “Today’s court is led by conservative judicial activists who twist constitutional analysis to substitute their own policy preferences for laws passed by Congress or the states.”

A new law passed by the Senate on June 23, known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, restricts the sale of firearms to people with domestic violence convictions and bans sales to people convicted of abusing intimate partners. Additionally, it gives new federal funding to states that enforce “red flag” laws to remove firearms from those considered dangerous to themselves or others. 

The new law does not prohibit the sale of assault-style firearms and large-capacity magazines. But it does advance background checks by requiring mandatory reporting of serious crimes committed by juveniles.

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