Supreme Court Again Declines to Hear Gun-Rights Cases

Leaves Maryland assault weapons ban, Florida open-carry ban rulings in place

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November 28, 2017

The Supreme Court declined to hear two gun-rights cases on Monday, continuing a trend of refusing such cases going back several years.

The Court decided not to take up either Kolbe v. Hogan or Norman v. Florida in their latest order list. The two cases represent challenges to Maryland and Florida's gun-control laws. Kolbe challenged the constitutionality of Maryland's ban on certain semi-automatic rifles and handguns. Norman challenged Florida's ban on the open carry of firearms in public.

The gun laws in both cases were upheld in lower courts. The Supreme Court's decision not to take up either case means the lower court rulings and the laws will remain in place.

The Court's reluctance to take up gun-rights cases in recent years has left gun-rights activists and even some members of the Court frustrated. When the Court refused to hear Peruta v. California, a challenge to California's restrictive gun-carry laws, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Thomas filed a dissent.

"The Court's decision to deny certiorari in this case reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right," Thomas said in the dissent. "The Court has not heard argument in a Second Amendment case in over seven years—since March 2, 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742. Since that time, we have heard argument in, for example, roughly 35 cases where the question presented turned on the meaning of the First Amendment and 25 cases that turned on the meaning of the Fourth Amendment."

Thomas went so far as to say the Court's own security detail may affect their view of the Second Amendment.

"For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous," he said. "But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it."

In response to the Court's decision not to take up Kolbe, the National Rifle Association said it believes Maryland's ban on certain guns violates the Second Amendment.

"Maryland's ban on commonly owned firearms and magazines violates our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense," Chris Cox, head of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller clearly stated that arms in common use for lawful purposes are protected by the Second Amendment and thus cannot be subject to an outright ban. We will continue fighting to ensure that the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding Americans are respected in the courts."