It is probably true that gun fanatics and the National Rifle Association were as pleased at Trump’s ascendancy to the White House as evangelical fanatics, racists, and the billionaire class. With a rubber stamp in the White House, Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and another NRA advocate on the Supreme Court, the gun nuts and the NRA never expected to suffer another defeat late last week at the hands of the High Court.
There is such a dearth of anything remotely resembling good news in Trump’s America that it was refreshing to learn from the good folks at SCOTUSblog that the Supreme Court rejected hearing two separate appeals from gun advocates. It is likely that the High Court is cognizant of the two most recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, and instead of being accused of having more blood on their ‘supreme’ hands, the Court steered clear of the gun debate for now and put off allowing more “weapons of war” on the streets.
One of the appeals sought to overturn a Maryland state ban on assault weapons, and the other attempted to overturn Florida’s ban on open carry firearms. What was noteworthy in both denials was that unlike a decision last June in a case denying an appeal to overturn a California ban on open carry “outside the home for self-defense,” the High Court’s denials “were not accompanied by any public comments from the Justices.” In that June denial, Justices Clarence Thomas and NRA champion Neil Gorsuch lashed out at California’s open carry ban as a flagrant attack on the Second Amendment.
In the Maryland case, Kolbe v. Hogan, several Second Amendment groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), challenged the right of the Maryland state legislature to ban “semi-automatic rifles and large capacity magazines.” The bans were enacted in the wake of the 2012 massacre of 20 little children and six of their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. It is noteworthy the 5 and 6 year old children and their adult teachers were slaughtered with “the most popular semi-automatic rifle” among Maryland gun extremists.
Maryland gun lovers, gun sellers and organizations supported by the NRA challenged the ban on the grounds that assault weapons like those used in the Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and Texas massacres “are the most popular semi-automatic rifles for self-defense.” It is noteworthy that the ban also included “detachable magazines” that have a capacity of more than 10 rounds; what the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals accurately labeled are indisputably “weapons of war.”
In that ruling, Appellate Judge Robert King wrote for the majority:
“We have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage. Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there.
We are convinced that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are among those arms that are ‘like’ ‘M-16 rifles’ — ‘weapons that are most useful in military service’ — which the Heller Court singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment’s reach.”
The Fourth Circuit ruling also noted that four other federal courts have upheld similar bans in four other states based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in “Heller.” They certainly didn’t dare say that allowing more battlefield weapons on the streets was an idiotic idea; even federal appellate judges comprehend there is only so far they are permitted to challenge the NRA’s authority and agenda without harsh repercussions.
In the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in “Heller” the justices ruled specifically that states and cities were legally able to “ban the M-16 rifle, a military version of the AR-15;” the battlefield gun NRA-supporters claim is a life-and-death necessity in the home if they are equipped with detachable high-capacity magazines like those used in the theatre of war. Maybe conditions and interpersonal relationships in gun fanatics’ homes are so contentious that it feels like a battlefield, but a 12-gauge or Glock should be more than sufficient for self-defense in the home.
The gun advocates were certain the NRA-friendly conservatives on the High Court would rule in their favor, so they argued that the Maryland legislature acted unfairly. Their argument also suggested the Maryland legislature and Fourth Circuit Appeals Court had disregarded the safety and lives of “law-abiding citizens” in their homes. They stated:
“Maryland has banned the most popular semiautomatic rifles and magazines — arms that are indisputably in common use for self-defense — from the homes of law-abiding citizens.”
It is noteworthy that those semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines are also indisputably the most popular and commonly used weapons to commit mass murders. A weapon’s popularity among gun fanatics and mass murderers is no reason to allow even one more in the population.
In the second case, Norman v. Florida, a man challenged the state’s ban on open carry in public. Florida allows “concealed carry” in public, but that doesn’t allow gun advocates to show off their personal “firepower” to impress fellow Floridians in public places.
The Florida case stemmed from the 2012 arrest of a man, Dale Lee Norman, for walking around in public with a sidearm on his hip like a Wild West gunslinger. As Bloomberg News noted, the state of Florida permits any resident to carry around “a licensed handgun outside the home,” but those guns have to be concealed. Florida state officials told the High Court that Florida, South Carolina and Illinois are the only states in the nation that “allow carrying concealed weapons in public,” but bans gun fanatics from showing off those weapons. If there is one thing gun fanatics seem to enjoy more than owning “weapons,” it is carrying them openly to show they are “real Americans.”
Although the High Court denying appeals that challenged sane gun safety laws is good news, it may be short-lived depending on how soon the next mass shooting occurs. Gun proliferation advocates are not going to give up so easily and Republicans in the House are currently pushing more gun legislation written by the NRA.
The current Second Amendment legislation makes it legal for gun enthusiasts to carry their concealed weapons across state lines without restrictions from states banning concealed or open carry. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lambasted Republicans for “doing the bidding” of the NRA that designated making universal concealed carry its highest legislative priority in Trump’s America. Ms. Pelosi said:
“Two months after two of the most deadly shootings in modern American history, Republicans are brazenly moving to hand the NRA the biggest item on its Christmas wish list.”
Ms. Pelosi is right, of course, but she is no more surprised at Republican pandering to the NRA than any other semi-conscious American. In the same way Republicans exist to serve the financial, religious, and fossil fuel sectors at the expense of the people’s welfare, they will move the proverbial “heaven and Earth” to aid the NRA put more guns on the streets. There is no doubt whatsoever the Republican “gun proliferation” legislation will pass with votes to spare and set the stage for the National Rifle Association’s likely next “top legislative priority;” a federal law making weapons of war and high-capacity magazines legal in all public places to supersede sane city and state laws banning assault weapons.
Americans shouldn’t celebrate this minor setback to the NRA or gun proliferation advocates for very long, if at all. Remember, Republicans own the government lock, stock, and barrel and barring an increase in the frequency of mass shootings in America, they will unleash more weapons of war on America. And the conservative Supreme Court will duly serve their NRA masters and rule that the gun lobby is a person with rights protected under the First and Second Amendments. If anyone doesn’t believe it, consider the conservative court has already ruled in Hobby Lobby that birth control pills are abortions, and in Citizens United that multi-national corporations are people with constitutional rights. This is a new America and nothing is out of bounds if it serves the interests of the people buying Republican votes.