Second Amendment advocates are pursuing multiple lawsuits against gun-control measures in an effort to trigger a Supreme Court challenge that could upend decades of legislation.
The Second Amendment Foundation has filed multiple gun-rights challenges in federal courts across the country. Founder Alan Gottlieb said the muddled nature of state laws, on issues ranging from open carry to the possession of certain weapons, calls out for judicial review from the nation’s highest court.
“Politicians making claims that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to so-called assault weapons is exactly why the Supreme Court needs to take all of these cases and put this issue to rest,” Gottlieb told the Washington Free Beacon.
The Supreme Court has never heard a legal challenge on either federal or state bans on “assault weapons” and has been largely silent on Second Amendment issues since its landmark rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010)—a pair of decisions that struck down strict gun-control laws in Washington, D.C., and Illinois. Gun-control activists have used the silence from the justices as approval for new bans and confiscation measures. Virginia delegate Mark Levine (D.) told the state Senate Judiciary Committee in February that the constitutionality of his proposed “assault weapons” ban and magazine confiscation proposal was settled law.
“I understand that some people might disagree with the policy here but there should be no question as to the constitutionality of this bill,” Levine said.
The Virginia Senate ultimately voted against Levine’s legislation, but gun advocates say that his rhetoric demonstrates why the Supreme Court should weigh in.
If the Supreme Court is moved to rule on new gun-rights cases—especially the legality of bans like Levine’s—it could change the landscape of gun laws in the United States. Any ruling expanding protections for what categories of guns Americans have a right to own, or where they have a right to take their guns, could strike down laws in heavily Democratic states such as California, New York, and Illinois.