Supreme Court to consider again: Does Second amendment cover self-defense outside the home?

Starting Friday, the Supreme Court is going to start making selections on which cases it wants to hear for the fall term 2013.  On the docket is a case called: Kachalsky v. Cacace, 12-845.

The plaintiffs in the case are New York residents who filed a lawsuit against the state of New York for its stringent and arbitrary ‘may-issue’ concealed carry laws, depending on the county or city one resides in, the ‘may-issue’ standard is effectively ‘no-issue’ in practice (think of Bloomberg’s NYC).

If the High Court takes up the case, it will have to rule on two central issues: (1) Whether the Second Amendment secures a right to carry handguns for self-defense outside the home; and (2) whether state officials violate the Second Amendment by denying handgun carry licenses to responsible, law-abiding adults for lack of “proper cause” to bear arms for self-defense.

As noted in previous articles, this is not the first time the Supreme Court has had the opportunity to clarify whether the Second Amendment means what it says, i.e. citizens have a right to keep and bear (carry) arms,” or whether it means something else entirely, i.e. that part about, “shall not be infringed” doesn’t really mean “shall not be infringed.”

There have been at least two other cases that have raised this issue in recent years: Williams v. Maryland and Masciandaro v. US.

For a brief recap on how this all came to head, one will recall that the McDonald v. Chicago case (2010), and its landmark predecessor D.C. v. Heller (2008), only focused on the ownership of firearms for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.  Notably omitted from those rulings was the application of concealed carry within the purview of the Second Amendment, which has been a source of great consternation for gun rights advocates across the country.

Since those decisions, the Second Amendment Foundation has led the charge to get this matter resolved.  And once again, they’re at the helm.  Super Attorney Alan Gura, the Lead Lawyer for the SAF is representing the New Yorkers in this latest case.

Gura argued the Heller case before the High Court; he also represented the SAF in the McDonald v. Chicago case.  He’s definitely the man for the job – again, should the Supreme Court opt to hear the case.

The Associated Press asked Gura what he thought about the timing of the case, given that it comes in the midst of a heated debate on gun control and four months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

“The issue here is a large and obvious one that predated Newtown and it will continue to be a big issue going forward,” Gura told the AP, declining to speculate whether the Sandy Hook tragedy might affect the High Court’s decision.

In the past, prior to Newtown, Gura has given very insightful lectures on this subject.  Here’s one from Nov. 2012 (Relevant info starts around 5:00):

“We’d like to think that the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, but in reality, in the practical and for your daily life, the bill of rights means what judges tell you it means and judges in our country are a byproduct of the electoral process,” Mr. Gura warned in the address. “Forget about 1791, the Second Amendment is on the ballot, this time, next time, every time.”

Sage and practical analysis.

We’ll keep you posted on Kachalsky v. Cacace.  We should have an answer by Monday.

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