Supreme Court’s Gun Rights Ruling

July 7, 2022 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

The Supreme Court voted on several important laws over the last week. One of the laws that was challenged was New York’s law which gives the state officials the discretion over granting concealed carry permits for firearms. What exactly does this mean? It will basically put into place a nationwide right for individuals to carry guns outside of their private homes.

The seven states that currently held strict gun laws for carrying in public are New York, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The Supreme Court passed the ruling in a 6-3 vote, and even though it was not unexpected there is now the concern for protecting gun rights and public safety across the nation.

We’ll cover the details of the New York law and how it is being challenged, if it could affect Florida, and other factors on reducing gun violence in the United States.

New York’s Concealed Carry Law Challenged

The original case for the New York law was passed in 1913. Under the law, a person who wished to obtain a concealed carry had to prove to the state licensing officer that there was a “proper cause” to obtain a permit to carry a concealed gun in public. For instance, a person could be granted a concealed carry permit if there was a greater-than-average need or threat made to them, such as a threat to themselves or their family members. It could not just be vague reasoning such as “there has been crime in my neighborhood.” Probable cause of a special need was required.

Now the newest case is titled New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The Supreme Court has declared that the New York law is unconstitutional, and is violating both the Second Amendment and 14th Amendment. Now that the New York law has been struck down, it will likely affect the other states with similar laws as well. For future rulings, the Supreme Court has set up a test for the court system to determine whether a law is in violation of the Second Amendment.

The test comes as a result of a 2008 case titled District of Columbia v. Heller. This case was the first case to touch on the Second Amendment since United State v. Millier (1939), and it was the first supreme court case to recognize the right of an individual to own firearms. In writing for the majority, Justice Scalia wrote “like most rights, the right secured by the second amended in not unlimited.” The Heller Court held that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.  There was no test at this point to decide whether new gun laws were in violation of the Second Amendment. Now the newly proposed test will look at history, tradition, and the texts of the Constitution to determine if a gun law is violating the Second Amendment.

The test will ask the question: Is this [law] and implication against the Second Amendment? If the answer is yes, then does it have a good rationale and will hold up against scrutiny? In the concurring opinion section written by Justice Kavanaugh, he pointed out that the ruling will not implicate general gun laws and that states will still be able to require permits for citizens to carry a gun in public. However, there can no longer be a discretionary piece against obtaining a permit.

Will it Affect Florida?

As of now, the Supreme Court’s ruling does not nullify any of Florida’s current laws on firearms. The seven states listed above are considered “may issue” for licensing laws, which defines the stricter rules against receiving a concealed carry permit. Florida is included in the rest of the states that fall under the “shall-issue” states. This means that as long as the person applying for a carry license meets a set of objective criteria, then they will be granted a permit.

Although Florida has relatively lenient gun laws and is not facing any issues with the New York law struck down, there may be challenges against the current laws in Florida for the future of gun control legislation. Florida currently bans the use of open carry, which is when an individual can have a firearm on their person that is visible to others. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services instead grants the use of concealed carry—which provides the ability to have a gun on their person if it is hidden from plain sight and the owner has a concealed carry permit.

Some of Florida’s gun laws may see challenges soon after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Sean Caranna, the director of Florida Carry—a Florida gun rights organization—has stated that his organization will consider challenging the ban on open carry in the state. This includes long guns, and semi-automatic rifles including the AR-15, which is the type of gun used in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting.

“Does it change much today? No,” Caranna said. “Are cases about to be filed? Absolutely.”

Another law that may be questioned after the Supreme Court decision is the age limit for purchasing a firearm. In 2018, then-Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law making the minimum age restriction for buying a gun 21-years-old. The law was passed after the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland.

Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA who specializes in gun policy, told the Tampa Bay Times that the minimum age limit laws could be challenged in wake of the new ruling. “While Florida doesn’t have too many restrictive laws that are likely to be called into question, I do think we’re likely to see some challenges in the future of age-based restrictions on firearms for people under the age of 21,” Winkler said.

Winkler added that the recent decision by the Supreme Court will be likely to “signal a new era of judicial scrutiny of gun laws.”

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime involving a firearm or other weapon, reach out to a skilled Florida criminal defense lawyer. Even with lenient gun laws in the state, you can still get in trouble with the law for illegally obtaining a firearm or weapon. It is important to understand your rights in the state, and whether or not you have the permitted permission to carry a gun. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state for various crimes, and understand the importance of building a strong defense for your case. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

Written by Karissa Key

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