In 2008, the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller gave teeth to the Second Amendment, holding that the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” did, in fact, guarantee citizens the right to “keep” arms in their home for self-defense. Yet one decade later, lower courts continue to resist following Heller. Most shocking, several federal courts of appeals have ruled that whatever the Second Amendment says about the right to “keep” arms in your home, it does not guarantee lawful American citizens the right to “bear” arms in public for their self-defense.
That position is contrary to the Second Amendment’s text, history, and Supreme Court precedent interpreting that text and history. Yet the High Court has thus far sat out of the debate, declining to authoritatively state whether the Second Amendment means what it says and guarantees a right to self-defense both at home and in public.
Fortunately, all of this may be about to change for the better. Last June, Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Gorsuch, lamented the Court’s refusal to make clear that the Second Amendment applies outside the home, criticizing his colleagues for imposing a “hierarchy by selectively enforcing its preferred rights” like the First Amendment but underenforcing the Second Amendment. He described the lower court’s opinion as “indefensible” and the Supreme Court’s refusal to review Second Amendment cases as “inexcusable.”
by Mitchell Rocklin