When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022), it affirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense.
Now, in an ironic—and arguably unconstitutional—move, leaders of the Maryland county where three of the high-court justices live voted to ban the carry of firearms pretty much everywhere in the county.
On Monday, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a bill that bans the possession of firearms within 100 yards of a place of public assembly. Additionally, it bans possession of a firearm in most public places, including “a park; place of worship; school; library; recreational facility; hospital; community health center; long-term facility; or multipurpose exhibition facility, such as a fairgrounds or conference center.”
Interestingly, in what seems like a big middle finger to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, the measure doesn’t apply to firearm possession within the home—only carry of firearms in public.
“This legislation will help to ensure that we do everything possible to minimize the number of guns in our public space,” Council President Gabe Albornoz said in a statement released after the vote. “I have confidence that the Maryland General Assembly will take action but given the urgency of gun violence in our community, I felt strongly that we could not wait at the local level.”
As journalist Emily Miller pointed out, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch all live in Montgomery County. Additionally, all three voted in the majority in Bruen—a decision that the new Montgomery County measure not only ignores, but appears to flaunt.
So now Roberts, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are living under exactly what Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion in Bruen, described: “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right,’ subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees. We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”
Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June, it seems likely that some court will overturn this new Montgomery County law. It is, in fact, very similar to the so-called “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” passed hastily in New York after the Bruen decision.
Following the new process outlined in Bruen, courts must apply a historical review on whether there is any tradition of firearm regulation that justifies Montgomery County’s widespread carry ban. There is not.
Of course, despite what county officials say, making large swaths of the county “gun-free zones” won’t make anybody safer. Rather, such bans tend to make law-abiding citizens less safe. As the Crime Prevention Research Center reported a few years back, 94% of mass murderers chose “gun-free zones” to commit their crimes in the U.S. between 1950 and 2019, as they prefer to prey on unarmed victims rather than face those who might be able to fight back.
Law-abiding citizens need their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms to protect themselves in public.