Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Supreme Court denies potential major guns rights case

May 5, 2014 by Scott Bomboy


The United States Supreme Court said on Monday morning it will not consider a case that would define rights related to concealed gun permits in New Jersey and potentially across the country.


750px-Supreme_Court_Front_DuskThe denial was first reported by SCOTUSblog, which received a printed version of the court orders before they were posted online. (At 9:50 am ET, the Court’s official orders were posted on its website.)


The case of Drake v. Jerejian was heard in private conference by the nine Justices recently. Orders were issued today and the Drake case was listed among those cases denied by the Court.


A petition was filed with the Court in January 2014. The petitioners, led by attorney Alan Gura, wanted answers to two questions: whether the Second Amendment secures a right to carry handguns outside of the home for self-defense and if New Jersey officials violated that right by requiring people to prove a “justifiable need” for carrying a handgun for self-defense outside their homes.


Gura argued that four federal district courts, along with several state supreme courts, have ruled that the Second Amendment extends the right to carry handguns to outside of the home for self-defense, while several other federal courts have disagreed.


The Third Circuit was among the courts that decided self-defense rights were restricted to inside the home, and it upheld New Jersey’s “justifiable need” law.


Gura said the state’s handgun laws are so restrictive that “few ordinary people can hope to obtain” a permit.


In response, the state has argued that a federal district court and the Third Circuit stated that “t remains unsettled whether the individual right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense extends beyond the home.” The state also argued that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller allowed New Jersey to have restrictive gun permitting laws under language from the Court’s decision about licensing provisions.


In late February, the Justices denied petitions for certiorari for three other Second Amendment cases: NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ,  NRA v. McCraw and Lane v. Holder.


In NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms  and NRA v. McCraw, the National Rifle Association wanted the Court to address the Second Amendment right to bear arms in public,  including the rights of some people under the age of 21.


Lane v. Holder focused on the constitutionality of laws regulating the sale of firearms.


Since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010, it hasn’t accepted new cases about the rights of gun owners. The McDonald case extended the decision in the 2008 Heller decisions to the states.


Scott Bomboy is the editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.


Recent Constitution Daily Stories


Podcast: P.J. O’Rourke, Ilya Shapiro on lying politicians


Supreme Court rules in favor of public legislative prayers


10 odd facts about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination


10 big Supreme Court cases awaiting decisions


Sign up for our email newsletter