Justice Thomas Blasts Supreme Court For Undermining Gun Rights

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Justice Clarence Thomas blasted the Supreme Court Monday for refusing to review a California law imposing a ten-day waiting period on the purchase of firearms.

Monday’s case is only the latest in a series of pro-gun control rulings the high court has refused to review.

“I still believe that the Second Amendment cannot be ‘singled out for special—and specially unfavorable—treatment,'” Thomas wrote.

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California’s waiting period is the second longest in the country, and fewer than a dozen states enforce any sort of waiting period. The period exists so state officials can assess the purchaser’s identity, legal status, and mental health. California also argues the law has a “cool down” effect, as it may deter prospective gun owners from inflicting harm on themselves or others if they attempt to buy a firearm in an emotionally compromised state.

A group of California gun rights activists challenged the law, arguing it violates the Second Amendment. The activists say the law is unconstitutional with respect to subsequent purchases, as a person who procures multiple guns in California has already passed the relevant background checks.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, relying heavily on the state’s “cool down” rationale.

The justices announced a constitutional right to possess firearms in the home in a 2008 case called D.C. v. Heller, and applied that decision against state governments in a 2010 case called McDonald v. Chicago. Since those two decisions, however, the Court has said very little about the Second Amendment. Lower federal courts, in the mean time, have adopted a fairly narrow view of the Heller and McDonald decisions, affirming a raft of gun control measures.

Thomas has repeatedly criticized the Court for refusing to venture further into firearms controversies, effectively relegating the Second Amendment to second-class status. He reprised this line again Monday, accusing his colleagues of undermine their earlier guarantees in Heller and McDonald.

“Nearly eight years ago, this Court declared that the Second Amendment is not a ‘second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,'” he wrote. “By refusing to review decisions like the one below, we undermine that declaration.”

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