The Supreme Court’s decision to strengthen Second Amendment protections for carrying concealed weapons is starting to ripple through lower courts, with several judges citing the ruling to strike down other gun regulations, says the Wall Street Journal. The high court, on a 6-3 vote in June, struck down New York’s longstanding strict limits on granting permits for carrying concealed handguns outside the home, saying residents shouldn’t be required to provide justification for wanting to carry a weapon for self-defense. The court’s conservative majority announced new rules for how judges are supposed to assess the constitutionality of firearm regulations.
Judges are supposed to focus less on whether gun regulations advance present-day government interests, and more, as Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court, on whether a regulation “is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” A firearm restriction implicating the Second Amendment is permissible only if it is similar to how guns were restricted in the early decades of the republic. Several recent rulings highlight the early impact of the new approach, with judges ruling against gun regulations applying to young adults, individuals facing felony charges and makers of homemade guns. “It’s definitely fair to say it is a harder test for the government to satisfy,” said law Prof. Jacob Charles of Pepperdine University. A Texas federal judge ruled the Constitution protects the right of 18-to-20-year-olds to carry handguns for self defense outside the home. A federal judge in Delaware suspended enforcement of a state law criminalizing possession or manufacture of unserialized, homemade firearms, citing the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. In New York, U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby said the state couldn't bar concealed-carry permit holders from walking armed into Times Square and other crowded public spaces. Courts have yet to rule on what the Supreme Court’s decision means for a number of high-profile gun regulations, including statewide restrictions on certain semiautomatic rifles labeled assault weapons enacted in California and Maryland.