The Supreme Court on Friday will consider whether to wade into a growing legal brawl over the scope of the Second Amendment and how far the Constitution goes in protecting Americans’ self-defense rights outside of their homes, with the justices deciding whether to take up three pending gun cases.
Six years ago, in the landmark Heller case, the court established that the Constitution guarantees a personal right to bear arms, but states — and lower federal courts — have made different judgments about what that means.
Now, in the key case, the National Rifle Association has asked the justices to take up a Texas challenge that questions whether states can impose restrictions on guns that the NRA says would be “unimaginable” if it were for free speech or privacy rights.
One of the other two cases involves a separate NRA lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, challenging whether federal law can require handgun buyers to be at least 21 rather than 18. The third case questions a 1968 federal law that prevents anyone without a federal firearms license from receiving or processing handguns bought or brought in from out of state.
“These cases present vital questions for gun policy: where you can carry a gun and who can have one,” said Adam Winkler, a specialist in constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law. “It’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court has to answer these questions.”