WASHINGTON—If the Supreme Court becomes the final arbiter of a California concealed carry case, their final decision could represent the court’s decision on potential Second Amendment cases in the near future. With Neil Gorsuch sworn in Monday as the 9th justice to the Supreme Court, gun rights advocates hope he follows in the tradition of the late Justice Antonin Scalia when it comes to Second Amendment rights.
During the Gorsuch nomination in the Senate, the National Rifle Association dropped $1 million into an ad buy supporting the Colorado judge to the court, in a bet that he, once a clerk of Justice Kennedy, would rule in favor of Second Amendment rights cases.
“Four Supreme Court justices believe you have a right to defend yourself with a gun,” the TV ad’s voiceover said, referencing Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy.
“Four do not,” the narrator goes on, implying liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. “The men and women of the NRA will not let anti-gun elites strip away our rights or our freedom.”
Back in January, the NRA filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the California-based case from Peruta v. San Diego. The case case is one of five that the high court will decide in coming days as to whether it will take up after the 9th circuit ruled in favor of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department over California resident and gun owner Edward Peruta.
Peruta challenged his county’s rejection of a request for a concealed carry permit that would allow him to carry concealed firearm outside of his residence. However, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department restricts concealed carry permits to anyone who can prove they have a particular need for self-defense for a specific threat.
“The whole point of the Sheriff’s policy is to confine concealed-carry licenses to a very narrow subset of law-abiding residents,” Peruta’s attorneys wrote. “And because California law prohibits openly carrying a handgun outside the home, the result is that the typical law-abiding resident cannot bear a handgun for self-defense outside the home at all.”
Additionally, Congress could be voting on national concealed carry legislation later this year, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told The Daily Caller in late March. Cornyn is the lead sponsor of such legislation (S.446) in the upper chamber.
“Well you know we got so much going on now it’s just it seems like there’s not much room, but my hope is later this year we can get it teed up and, of course, depending on when the House takes their version of that will help move it along, but I’m hoping sometime this year,” Cornyn said. The House version (H.R. 38) of the concealed carry bill was introduced by North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson in January.
Republicans still lack 60 votes to stop debate on any legislation and go forward to a final vote, but Cornyn thinks that voters in blue states with concealed carry could help pressure certain Democratic members to support the legislation.
“Well, right now, [Democrats] are pretty much in a lockdown mode, but I think there are a number of them–I mean, almost I think virtually every state has some sort of license to carry law,” Cornyn said.
He added, “Do you know to operate a driver’s license, if you’ve got a driver’s license in one state you can drive in 50 states subject to the laws of those states? So that’s all this would do. And since they all have some form of license to carry, I don’t see it as a big leap.”
Should the legislation find its way past the Senate, lawsuits from states with strict gun control laws are likely. The New Jersey Democratic legislature already filed a lawsuit against its Republican Gov. Chris Christie this month for loosening up regulations in his state to make it easier for eligible residents to qualify for concealed carry permits.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told The Trace back in January that a federal national concealed carry law would be a “violation of state’s laws.”
“The lowest-common-denominator approach proposed by this bill would undermine the core principles of federalism, the traditional police powers of state governments, and the safety of law enforcement officers across the country,” New York Attorney General Eric said in an email statement. “It’s absolutely unacceptable for the federal government to dictate that someone can carry a concealed, loaded gun within a state’s border, in violation of that state’s laws.”