Gorsuch Provides Hope for 2nd Amendment Advocates

Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, above, joined in a dissent written by Justice Clarence Thomas when the court declined to hear Peruta.

Neil Gorsuch, recent appointee to the United States Supreme Court, advocated for 2nd Amendment gun rights in joining Justice Thomas’ dissent to the Court’s majority decision to deny review of the Ninth Circuit, Court of Appeals, decision in Peruta v. California. In that written opinion, the Ninth Circuit declared there to be no Second Amendment right to carry a concealed firearm in public. (See related story here.) Gorsuch and Thomas both declared this issue to be “one of national importance” and asserted no reason to wait for another case to review this issue.

Further, Gorsuch and Thomas went beyond criticizing the Court’s denial of certiorari, suggesting the Second Amendment protects the right to carry firearms in public but are careful not to tip their hand regarding whether there is a specific constitutional right to conceal carry. In the written dissent, the Justices go on to quote numerous cases that conclude the Second Amendment protects the right to carry firearms in public in some fashion. Gorsuch and Thomas further cement this opinion and point the Supreme Court’s definition in Heller that states to bear arms means to “wear, bear or carry upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.” Gorsuch and Thomas conclude “[t]he most natural reading of this definition encompasses public carry” and “…find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

One thing is clear, by joining Justice Thomas’ dissent in this case, Gorsuch believes in a Second Amendment right to carry a firearm for the purpose of self-defense at home and in public. Gorsuch and Thomas conclude their dissent by stating “…[T]he 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.”

Despite, the Supreme Court’s reluctance to review constitutional issues relating to gun rights, gun owners may have found a conservative Second Amendment advocate in the recent appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. —Douglas I. Richards, U.S. Law Shield of Colorado Independent Program Attorney, Richards Carrington, LLC

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