What’s it going to take to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear another case related to our right to keep and bear arms? The nation’s high court recently passed on taking the Jackson case out of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals—a case brought by the California Rifle & Pistol Association and the NRA that challenges Bay Area gun storage laws that require firearms to be locked up and unavailable for self-defense unless you’re actually wearing them in your home.That means while you’re in the shower, or asleep in bed, you have to be strapped for self-defense or else forgo the option of defending yourself with a gun stored nearby.
Given the court’s decision in Heller striking down a very similar gun storage provision, it’s a little surprising to see the Supreme Court pass on taking this case. But the justices haven’t touched a high-profile Second Amendment case since the McDonald decision struck down Chicago’s handgun ban in 2010. Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent—joined by Justice Antonin Scalia—in not taking the San Francisco case hints that other justices didn’t see it as ripe for review, given that there is not yet a split in the Courts of Appeals regarding gun storage laws like the ones in San Francisco. But as the dissent points out, the Supreme Court has heard other “splitless decisions involving alleged violations of other constitutional rights.”
In his dissent, Thomas reiterated the words of the Heller decision, that “[a] constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all.” Unfortunately, at least in this case, the Supreme Court’s inaction guarantees that law-abiding gun owners in San Francisco will be, for all practical purposes, disarmed in their home when they are most vulnerable.