WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States Supreme Court will address gun control on Monday for the first time in nearly 10 years with a majority of justices seen as supporting the rights of people who own firearms.
In a country in which guns kill nearly 40,000 people every year, the nine-member court will again look at a case involving the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which enshrines “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
The court ruled in a landmark decision in 2008 that the amendment guaranteed what it called an individual right to own a gun, and struck down a law that banned handguns. In 2010, it said this decision applied both at the state and federal level.
“But it has not said very much about how courts should evaluate the constitutionality of other gun laws, such as restrictions on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and concealed carrying,” said Joseph Blocher, a professor of law at Duke University in North Carolina.
The court has consistently declined to take up gun cases since the 2010 decision.
But this year, it has agreed for the first time to rule on gun restrictions imposed in New York City in the name of public safety and opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association.
In addressing this case, the court might take the opportunity to clarify how courts can decide whether gun restrictions are legal or not.
Defenders of stricter gun control laws are afraid the court will issue a ruling that undermines their cause.
The court has undergone a marked shift to the right under President Donald Trump, who promised during the 2016 campaign to nominate judges who are firm believers in gun rights.
Since taking office, he has filled two Supreme Court vacancies with conservative jurists, so liberals are now outnumbered 5-4.
One Trump appointee, Brett Kavanaugh, has written in prior opinions that gun laws should be evaluated “solely on the basis of text, history and tradition, rather than their effectiveness in addressing contemporary problems of gun violence,” said Blocher.