What This Supreme Court Second Amendment Decision Means For American Freedom

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posted on June 23, 2022
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Giuseppe Milo courtesy Flickr

A just-released U.S. Supreme Court 6-3 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen screams for an early Independence Day celebration, a jubilee for freedom celebrated by America’s 100-plus million gun owners and anyone else who cares about remaining free.

This Supreme Court decision recognizes that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights means it when it says “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” [Emphasis ours.]

The 6-3 majority decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, says, “It is undisputed that petitioners Koch and Nash—two ordinary, law-abiding, adult citizens—are part of ‘the people’ whom the Second Amendment protects. And no party disputes that handguns are weapons ‘in common use’ today for self-defense. The Court has little difficulty concluding also that the plain text of the Second Amendment protects Koch’s and Nash’s proposed course of conduct—carrying handguns publicly for self-defense.”

That’s plain. Citizens’ rights in New York, as well as in other “may-issue” jurisdictions, were infringed when laws were enacted that allowed licensing authorities to deny law-abiding Americans their rights.

This is a ruling that will reverberate across the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” as Francis Scott Key so well put it in what became our national anthem.

So yes, this is a celebration of good, mainstream American values; this is a revelry for freedom from our highest court. This is a time for America’s millions of members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to proudly hold up their membership cards, as they helped make this happen. The NRA got behind plaintiffs to challenge New York’s outrageous, unconstitutional denial of citizens’ rights. Few realize how much time and expense goes into a constitutional challenge like this is, but this had to happen. American freedom hung in the balance and now this decision will breathe freedom back across this great nation.

This was necessary because a handful of states and municipalities—outliers from the vast majority of American states—have used their unconstitutional laws to almost completely prohibit law-abiding citizens from carrying arms to defend themselves and their loved ones. This isn’t any arbitrary thing. Americans today use guns to defend themselves 1.67 million times a year, mostly without firing a shot, according to the latest research from the 2021 National Firearms Survey. For specific examples, just read the NRA’s “Armed Citizen” column.

And that is precisely how this majority opinion saw it. “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,’” wrote Justice Thomas. “The exercise of other constitutional rights does not require individuals to demonstrate to government officers some special need. The Second Amendment right to carry arms in public for self-defense is no different. New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”

Now New York, and other state and local governments infringing on this right, will have to get out of the way of law-abiding citizens’ freedom to defend themselves. And freedom is precisely what this is about, a freedom that is not to blame for the actions of sociopaths.

“This is another landmark win for constitutional freedom and the NRA,” says Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA. “The decision comes at an important time, as the Senate considers legislation that undermines Second Amendment freedom. This decision unequivocally validates the position of the NRA and should put lawmakers on notice: no law should be passed that impinges this individual freedom. It also confronts a troubling problem with the Senate legislation, underscoring that these freedoms should not be left to ‘unguided’ discretion of state and federal officials. Second Amendment freedoms belong to the people.”

LaPierre adds, “Decades of Right-to-Carry laws all across America have proven that good men and women are not the problem. This ruling will bring life-saving justice to law-abiding Americans who have lived under unconstitutional restrictions all across our country, particularly in cities and states with revolving door criminal justice systems, no cash bail and increased opposition to law-enforcement.”

“This is a monumental win for NRA members and for gun owners across the country. New York’s egregious law, which left its residents’ self-defense rights to the whim of a government bureaucrat, has been declared unconstitutional and must be changed. New Yorkers will soon be able to defend themselves outside of their homes without first having to prove that they have a sufficient “need” to exercise their fundamental rights,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). “This is more than just a great day for New York because this ruling opens the door to rightly change the law in the seven remaining states that still don’t recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection. The NRA has been at the forefront of this movement for over 30 years and was proud to bring this successful challenge to New York’s unconstitutional law.” 

Meanwhile, the politicians who want our freedom are now screaming. They’ve often told us that good, law-abiding Americans, or our guns, are to blame for the actions of criminals. Nonsense. American freedom is a good thing we must keep. Americans help each other every day. We stand up to evil. Stopping criminals means actually catching and prosecuting criminals—not infringing on the rights of law-abiding Americans.

So now is a time for nationwide, American flag waving bash with fireworks (ah, the gun powder) painting our skies red, white and blue.

Later will come more legislative and court battles as this right is further defended and defined, but now is a time to rejoice.

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