SCOTUS Punts Again On Assault Weapon Bans

Matt Vespa
Posted: Jun 20, 2016 1:33 PM
SCOTUS Punts Again On Assault Weapon Bans

The Supreme Court has once again punted on hearing a case that challenges the constitutionality of so-called assault weapons bans. This time it’s from the state of Connecticut. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Court has been hesitant to take on any more cases that could end up being landmark decisions concerning Second Amendment rights ever since the 2010 McDonald decision. In that decision, the Court merely expanded the 2008 Heller decision to the states. In Heller, the Court ruled (correctly) that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to own a firearm, though it only applied to federal enclaves. They’ve also been hesitant to take on cases that could expand concealed carry rights (via NBC News):

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge to Connecticut's ban on semi-automatic rifles commonly called assault weapons, acting a little over week after the mass shooting in Orlando was carried with such a firearm.


The new restriction was focused on "firearms that are owned by a small percentage of gun owners and are disproportionately used in gun crime, particularly the most heinous forms of gun violence," said Connecticut's attorney general, George Jepsen.

When used in crimes, the rifles "result in more shots being fired, more people being shot, and more gun death."

The challengers, who lost in the lower courts, said the ban violates the Second Amendment right to own a gun. If it did anything to cut down on gun crime, it would achieve that effect only by simple arithmetic — reducing the number of constitutionally protected rifles.


Six other states — California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — have similar assault weapons bans, and federal appeals courts have yet to strike any of them down.

Last December, the Court refused to hear arguments over Highland Park’s ban on rifles that liberals view as scary. Additionally, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld New York's assault weapons ban in October of 2015. Yet, there’s still hope concerning the Maryland case. In February, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that the state law banning certain semiautomatic firearms should have had “a more stringent test to assess the law. The bar should be higher for the state, the court said, when the government passes a law that affects a right protected by the Constitution,” according to The Washington Post. In May, it was announced that the full court will hear the appeal concerning the assault weapons ban and the provision that limits magazines sizes. All of this while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama call for a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban at the federal level.