Ever since the Supreme Court slapped down the City of New York’s attempt to smother the pending case against brought against it by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, the amicus briefs have been coming in hot and heavy. You can see them all here.
While most of the briefs have been filed by those supporting the petitioners (i.e., for striking down the plainly unconstitutional New York City law) it’s always interesting to read the arguments of those who are desperately trying to head off an earthquake-like ruling that could invalidate hundreds of gun control laws across the country by finally applying strict scrutiny to the Second Amendment.
Here’s an excerpt from the Brady Campaign’s amicus brief which was filed Tuesday . . .
If the constitutional issues must be addressed, the Court’s decision should be limited to the issue directly at hand. The Court should reject petitioners’ effort to use this dispute, which involves a unique municipal transportation ordinance, into a vehicle to transform Second Amendment doctrine in a way that will imperil numerous public safety laws, as well as Americans’ ability and power to protect their communities.
If the Court entertains a broader discussion of Second Amendment rights, it should follow its traditional path of construing rights to avoid excessive costs to public safety. A right to lethal firearms in public merits even greater restraint. Petitioners wrongly suggest that every regulation of a fundamental constitutional right requires strict scrutiny, but this Court has never adopted such a mechanical approach.
What the Framers meant by “keep and bear arms” in 1791 may be debatable, but today’s reality is not. More than 1,000,000 people have been shot in America over the past decade, of whom more than 300,000 were killed. The causes of gun violence are complex, but a considerable body of knowledge, including both expert research and common sense, suggests that one significant cause is firearms in the public sphere. Americans are increasingly demanding legislative and policy solutions to this crisis, many of which are now being enacted or considered in local governments, the States, and Congress.
This reality is unmentioned by petitioners, as is the fact that courts and legislatures have long recognized government’s broad authority to restrict gun carrying in public spaces. A holding of this Court—or even dicta— that the Second Amendment broadly grants a right to carry loaded firearms in public spaces or requires searching scrutiny could transform the Second Amendment into a super-right that abridges Americans’ ability to exercise other fundamental rights, as well as their right to enact reasonable solutions to the problem of gun violence. The Court should preserve the rights of Americans to enact effective gun violence prevention measures to prevent bloodshed before it happens.
– Brady Campaign amicus brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v City of New York