Strict Scrutiny Now Being Applied to The Second Amendment

In what could possibly be the largest decision regarding gun control since District of Columbia v. Heller, the Firearm Safety Act of Maryland has been overturned in the 4th Federal Appeals Court. The important thing about this case is not its decision on the law in question, but it precedent for the hearing of cases regarding the Second Amendment.

Previously, cases regarding the Second Amendment were subject to intermediate scrutiny. This contrasts with all other amendments in which any law potentially violating them was subject to strict scrutiny. The best way to explain this is that previously bans on firearms would be upheld in court if they were claimed to be in the interest of public safety. As judge Clarence put it “If a broad ban on firearms can be upheld based on conjecture that the public might feel safer (while being no safer at all), then the Second Amendment guarantees nothing”. If a religion was banned based off of public safety, the law would be shot down in an instant. A less extreme example could be Roe v. Wade in which the right to an abortion was guaranteed under the right to privacy. There were limitations. In Roe v. Wade the right to an abortion was guaranteed but the states still had the right to protect potential life. Similarly, the right to own a firearm is guaranteed while the state maintain the right to regulate unusual firearms. Unusual meaning machineguns, or explosive devices. So commonly owned and accessed firearms are protected under the second amendment. However in many cases the intermediate scrutiny allows for cases to be deemed constitutional.

The big deal about the 4th circuit court’s decision is that it the case must now be heard under strict scrutiny by the U.S. District Court. Many of the provisions of the FSA would not stand up to a strict scrutiny. This in turn could have national consequences if the case was to make it up to the Supreme Court. If that does happen, then states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois would all see their current anti-gun laws overturned. By banning the access to commonly owned semi-automatic firearms these states have infringed on the right to bear arms.

Another important aspect of the case is that it includes magazine capacity under the right to bear arms. Banning magazines over 10 rounds could potentially be a breach of second amendment rights because they are commonly available. The court decided that “Strict scrutiny, then, is the appropriate level of scrutiny to apply to the ban of semi- automatic rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds”. So not only are firearms being included in this decision, but magazine capacity as well. The implications of this case are huge.

Only time will tell if this case comes to be anything more than a simple redefining of court policy, or if it completely redefines government intervention in citizen right to bear arms.

4 thoughts on “Strict Scrutiny Now Being Applied to The Second Amendment

  1. Lauretta Kraemer

    I’m sorry but I think guns are somewhat barbaric and not needed in an advanced society, they set limits on progress and have proven to make violent acts only worse. The more I read about the idea of associating the right to own a gun with the right of a woman to abort a child she does not want or your freedom of speech, the less I can see the other side. The right to own a gun is not something you should be born with, it is something that should be closely supervised because by giving someone a gun you are giving them the ability to kill someone. This is totally different than a woman’s right to abort a baby because there are two people involved in creating a baby, and only one person is needed to kill someone.

  2. Carrie Ajamian

    This was a very informative post and I think you did a great job of summarizing and explaining the issue. While I am aware of the long debated controversy of gun control I was not aware of this specific debate prior to reading this post, and am intrigued by the idea of clarifying court policy on gun control. I also liked the way you compared this issue to other issues such as religion and abortion. Though those are very different types of controversy, I think it really highlights the idea of government intervention and the situations in which privacy and civil liberties should be overrode in the interest of public safety.

  3. Joseph Kelly

    To be honest, I don’t like guns at all. Sometimes I think there are too many, and I think that mass shootings have become all too common of an occurrence in this country. I know it’s a constitutional right to own a gun, but I also think that we need to seriously consider the effects that firearms have, have had, and will continue to have on our society.

  4. jmf6058

    I agree that this case could set precedent for many other cases and as result lead to several other laws being deemed unconstitutional. Right now gun control is a controversial issue that has come up in both republican and democratic debates. I am curious to see where future progression on the gun control debate will lead and how it may affect the upcoming election. I hope whatever solution is reached is successful in not limiting rights of law abiding citizens, but still insuring public safety.

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