Supreme Court says several gun cases deserve a new look
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Thursday that gun cases involving restrictions in Hawaii, California, New Jersey and Maryland deserve a new look following its major decision in a gun case last week.
In light of last week's ruling — which said that Americans have a right to carry a gun outside the home — lower courts should take another look at several cases that had been awaiting action by the high court, the court said. Those cases include ones about high-capacity magazines, an assault weapons ban and a state law that limits who can carry a gun outside the home.
The justices, in a 6-3 decision, last week struck down a New York law that required people to show “proper cause,” a specific need to carry a gun, if they wanted to carry a gun in public. Half a dozen states have similar laws that were called into question by the ruling.
In the New York case, the court's conservative majority gave lower courts new guidance about how to evaluate gun restrictions. The justices rejected a two-step approach appeals courts had previously used as having one step too many. They said courts assessing modern firearms regulations should just ask whether they are “consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding.”
Sending other gun cases back to lower courts gives them the opportunity to apply that new guidance.
One of the cases the justices sent back to a lower court Thursday involved a Hawaii statute similar to New York's. In that case, a panel of 11 judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in 2021 that the right to “keep and bear arms” in the Constitution's Second Amendment “does not guarantee an unfettered, general right to openly carry arms in public for individual self-defense.” But the high court said in its latest gun case that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” A lower court will now have to revisit the Hawaii ruling.
The high court also told federal appeals courts to revisit cases involving laws in California and New Jersey that limit the number of bullets a gun magazine can hold. A 2018 New Jersey law limits most gun owners to magazines that hold up to 10 rounds of ammunition instead of the 15-round limit in place since 1990. A lower court upheld the law.
California law also bans magazines holding more than 10 bullets. A panel of 11 judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-4 last year to uphold California’s ban.
The justices also sent back for further review a case from Maryland that challenged the state's 2013 ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons. The high court had in 2017 turned away a previous challenge to the law.