Major gun rights case in Supreme Court this week

DURHAM, NC – The United States Supreme Court will hear a Second Amendment case on November 3, which will have massive implications for the decision-making process used to decide whether a person can carry a gun in public.

This will be the first major Second Amendment case in the nation’s highest court since the landmark District of Columbia v Heller case in 2008, when the court overturned a ban on home handgun possession in Washington, DC. .

Three Duke pundits spoke on Monday about this week’s case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, of its implications for the ability of states to regulate firearms, and of the potentially reduced role that evidence-based research could play in firearms licensing decisions.

The three academics spoke to reporters during a virtual press briefing. Watch the briefing on YouTube.

Here are some excerpts:

On the importance of the next Supreme Court case

JOSEPH BLOCHER, Professor of Law, Co-Director, Center for Firearms Law

“The right balance between gun rights and regulation is a really complicated issue that calls for nuanced solutions. It is not just a matter of being for or against gun rights or regulation, but of seriously considering a whole host of possible targeted, effective and constitutional solutions. Which, in the end, I think, is going to come down to a combination of things like background checks, extreme risk protection order laws, restrictions on particular classes of people and particular classes of people. ‘weapons, etc.

“What worries me the most is that the tribunal will unnecessarily narrow the range, the reach of democratic politics in trying to find these solutions.”

DARRELL MILLER, Professor of Law, Co-Director, Center for Firearms Law

“This is truly the case that gun rights advocates have been waiting for for over a decade. In 2008, for the first time, the United States Supreme Court ruled that you can have a gun in your home for personal purposes such as self-defense, but unrelated to participating in an organized militia, but the Court Supreme really hasn’t heard a Second Amendment case directly since that time.

“The issue is one of many open questions that have been left in the District of Columbia v Heller cases, and an important question, namely,” Under what circumstances can a person take a firearm off their property? And under what conditions ?’ This case was not directly presented in the Heller Opinion.

“This will have an impact on states that have ‘may issue’ permit programs. It’s not that it’s a large number of states, but a number of states that have large populations and large populations concentrated in urban areas. It could affect up to 80 million people.

On the impact of a possible change of the Supreme Court on the authorization of firearms to adopt the test of “text, history and tradition”

JEFFREY SWANSON, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

“It’s a really interesting simulation. If the ruling were to change the whole methodology for deciding Second Amendment case law … it would really narrow the door through which you could bring in research evidence as a deciding factor.

“There is a fairly good consensus – around ten peer-reviewed journal articles – on the effects of laws on portage rights. … When a right to wear law is passed, violent crime increases from 13% to 15%.

“If the state says you have the right to walk around the community with a handgun in your pocket, more people will. If the state cannot exercise its discretion to say who is going to be able to carry a gun, you are going to have a wider range of people, including more who engage in risky behavior, who carry guns. “

On how this new tribunal can build on gun rights


“The fact that the tribunal has changed as much as it did portends changes in how the Second Amendment will be interpreted and applied in the future. Heller, as of 2008, was a deeply divided decision, 5-4. For a long time after that, the Supreme Court basically stayed on the sidelines. As soon as Trump’s appointees (to the courts) began to be confirmed, the courts developed an appetite to take over Second Amendment cases. “

On gun violence at large in the United States


“In 2019… we recorded an average of 109 gun deaths per day. The majority of these gun deaths, some are surprised to learn, are suicides. Fifty-nine percent were suicides and 37 percent were homicides. “

“On the day of a horrific shooting that claimed so many victims that attracts so much attention … 100 more people die across the country on the same day in gun suicides and gang shootings and domestic incidents and disputes that have gone wrong. “

“It’s actually very different from most of our high-income peer countries in Western Europe, the UK, Canada, Australia and Japan. There they sort of decided that the idea that people should be able to walk around with handguns was too dangerous, so they largely limit that.

On the gun rights debate outside the courtroom


“A lot of gun rights litigation doesn’t actually take place in the Supreme Court. It’s happening in legislatures, it’s happening in state houses across the country. It would be an incredible boon to those who believe in a fairly absolute right to bear firearms if the court ultimately decides that the right to own and bear weapons includes a fairly relaxed idea as to whether or not they can be carried. House. This will put enormous pressure on other types of regulatory arrangements like training requirements. Some states do not require any training to carry a pistol outside the home.

“If you have more people carrying more guns in more places, then daycares and hospitals and others will want to know, ‘Am I in a sensitive place? So even a fairly narrow decision could have incredible political significance. “

Faculty participants:

Joseph blocher
Joseph Blocher is a law professor at Duke University who studies the balance between the rights of gun owners and the rights of citizens to be free from gun violence. He co-directs the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School.

Darrell miller
Darrell Miller is a Duke law professor whose study of constitutional law includes Second Amendment interpretations. He also co-directs the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law. His Second Amendment scholarship was cited by the United States Supreme Court.

Jeffrey Swanson
Jeffrey Swanson is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Duke School of Medicine. He is a social science researcher working to reduce gun violence and suicide. He is also a faculty member at the Center for Firearms Law.

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Duke experts on a variety of topics can be found here.

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