It’s difficult to overstate the rhetorical power of the words “Second Amendment” in the current political climate. Despite a string of horrific mass shootings, a near-riot and the rising visibility of anti-government militia groups – plus the undeniable power of the National Rifle Association – those two words are still sworn break off the conversation on gun control and treat any regulation of access to guns as a violation of the protections afforded by this amendment.
After the horrific mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, calls for a federal gun control law were met again with defenses from firearm owners and advocacy groups such as the National Rifle Association, which enshrined the Second Amendment, constitutional law Bearing arms is inviolable.
The most outspoken supporters of firearms, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and attendees at the NRA’s annual convention, held just days after the deaths of 19 children and two teachers at the hands of a man with an AR-15 rifle in Houston, Texas, took place at Robb Elementary School – blamed for mass shootings on everything from insufficient police presence in schools to mental illness to the perceived lack of Christian influence in daily American life.
“If you allow anyone to defend themselves in the way our Second Amendment intended…you will prevent a lot of that from happening,” one conference attendee, identified only as Anna, told the Texas Tribune. Another, Lyndon Boff, blamed mass shootings on the education system, saying, “…the first thing you have is a president who says, ‘We have to do something about it because it’s guns that killed people .’ no It’s their programs that teach kids in school that our country is a bunch of crap.” For his part, LaPierre said that restricting an individual’s “basic human right” to protect themselves and their property in order to prevent mass shootings, ” is not the answer; it never happened” in a speech before Congress.
“The rhetorical power of the Second Amendment should not be underestimated,” Eric Ruben, a professor at SMU’s Dedman School of Law and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, told Vox. That power, he said, was well known to the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote in the New York Times in a 2018 op-ed on the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia vs. Heller“This decision – which I remain convinced was wrong and was certainly controversial – gave the NRA a propaganda weapon of immense power.”
In the op-ed, Stevens advocated repealing the Second Amendment, which he wrote “would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to impede legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available.” Option.” Democratic congressmen have called for such a debate in the wake of the recent mass shootings and plan to collect testimony from victims and families at an upcoming hearing. But attempts to enact gun control laws at the federal level are likely to hit roadblocks this time, as they have after mass shootings over the past decade and a half.
District of Columbia against Heller and popular constitutionalism
As Ruben told Vox, and as Stevens pointed out in his 2018 comment, Brighter was the case that juridically reoriented the understanding of the Second Amendment to explicitly empower individuals to possess firearms for their own protection. Earlier trials, such as 1939 United States vs. Miller, looked at the first part of the Second Amendment, which places gun ownership in the context of a well-regulated militia. This case allowed Congress to legislate against sawed-off shotguns because, as Stevens wrote, “this weapon was disproportionate to the maintenance or efficiency of a ‘well-regulated militia’.”
But, as Ruben Vox said, until then Brighter When the law was passed, many Americans agreed that the Second Amendment gave individuals the right to own handguns for their own self-defense – before the ruling was even passed. Ruben traced this shift in understanding from the shift in why people owned firearms – as popular interest in hunting and sport waned in recent decades, people increasingly bought firearms to protect themselves from crime in their homes.
“Often a change in public opinion about the meaning of a particular constitutional provision precedes a change in legal understanding. Heller can thus be understood as popular constitutionalism.”
Popular constitutionalism—essentially the interpretation of the law in accordance with contemporary values and ideas—partially explains the Heller decision, as Reva Siegel, a professor and researcher at Yale Law School, wrote in the Harvard Law Review. But the Heller decision is interesting in that the argument for a popular constitutionalist judgment also depends on the modern understanding of the Second Amendment as the original meaning of the Amendment — in other words, many proponents of the Second Amendment believe their modern interpretation is actually the original intention of the framers.
“These practices of democratic constitutionalism allow mobilized citizens to challenge and shape popular beliefs about the original meaning of the constitution, thereby empowering the courts to enforce the nation’s fundamental obligations in new ways,” Siegel wrote, roundly pursuing the activism around the gun rights movement during the 20th century and how such activism framed the American understanding of the original meaning of the Second Amendment.
It is an interesting challenge to whether the public and the court view the Constitution as a living document that must be interpreted on the basis of contemporary values and needs, or as something to be judged solely on its legal content , without the imposition of modern politics. From Siegel’s point of view, the Brighter Decision blurs that line.
Gun control can function at the state level
“The second change is really important, but that alone isn’t a bugbear,” Ruben told Vox. That’s true Brighter and special McDonald vs Chicago, a 2010 case in which Otis McDonald and others challenged the city of Chicago’s 1982 handgun restrictions. The court found that a Second Amendment person’s right to keep and carry weapons in self-defense is bolstered by the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause — thereby increasing the Brighter decision against the States.
The combination of decisions in Brighter and MC Donald opened up the possibility for challenges to state gun control legislation, while culture wars and gun rights activism turned the mere phrase into a toxic, conversation-ending soundbite, state-level gun control legislation is still possible, Rubin said.
“The vast majority of states have their own constitutions and rights to own and bear arms, and many of these constitutional rights of states to own and bear arms have already been construed, or were expressly construed, to constitute a private They have the right to have a weapon in self-defense,” he told Vox. What’s more, the Brighter Decision does not violate states’ right to enact restrictions and gun control regulations on a variety of weapons, including weapons like the M16, of which the AR-15 is essentially the form for sale to civilians.
That means, Ruben said, that in the years that followed there were about 1,400 challenges to state gun restrictions Brighter According to his calculations, 90 percent of these cases fail to get the gun control regulations repealed.
Significant gun control legislation was even passed after the recent mass shootings. After a 2018 mass shooting killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, then-Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, passed a gun control bill that included a measure to raise the minimum age to purchase guns included a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21.
New York state lawmakers issued a similar measure after an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-15-style rifle broke into a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, in May, killing 10 people, all blacks , in a racially motivated crime. New York laws require people to pass a background check and take a gun safety course to be licensed to own a semi-automatic rifle, the New York Times reports.
Sure, these are incremental measures that will only be passed after irreparable damage has been done to families and communities, but it’s important to note the places where and the ways in which change is possible — and to understand that the Second Amendment, even as such it is interpreted Brightercan actually secure these necessary changes, at least for the time being.
That’s not to say the conservative majority on the Supreme Court won’t be issuing a more extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment in the near future. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen, a case challenging a New York law that requires people wishing to carry a gun in public to obtain a license, be 21 and be of “good moral character” and have no criminal record — as well as necessity Proof of carrying the gun in public — could legally challenge a number of gun restrictions already on state books, depending on how it’s decided, said Darrell Miller, an expert on the Second Amendment to Duke Law School, in an interview with Andrew Cohen of the Brennan Center.
“The judges at the hearing seemed genuinely concerned that a sweeping public carry decision would involve them in all sorts of minutiae about where guns can be banned — campuses, subway cars, Times Square on New Year’s Eve, etc. “, he said. He explained how complicated it would be for federal district judges to oversee and decide where guns should be banned in their jurisdictions.
But, according to Miller, the power of conservative politics cannot be ruled out in this case. “Nevertheless, there is a conservative supermajority in the court that is clearly willing to flex its muscles on issues that conservatives have long held at heart – from abortion restrictions to free movement to gun rights – so I can’t rule out a broad and.” a widely disruptive ruling that would not only upend New York City regulations, but would challenge the constitutionality of almost every gun ordinance in every state and at every level of government.”