by Brandon DeHart – Airline Pilot, Safety Chief & Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives representing Arizona’s 4th Congressional District
It’s becoming clear that one of the key legacies of Mitch McConnell’s Senate leadership and Donald Trump’s presidency, three appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States, may soon pay off in a spectacular way for staunch defenders of the individual right to keep and bear arms.
On April 26th, the 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court decided to grant review of a case out of New York challenging the state’s requirement that a citizen show “proper cause” to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in public. The name of the case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett. The state requires a citizen to submit an application to a local licensing officer (generally the local police chief or sheriff) who decides whether to issue a license to carry. In most populated Democratic strongholds, the local licensing officer does not consider self-defense to be proper cause. As a result, almost all residents are denied their constitutional right to bear arms.
The last time the Supreme Court addressed the Second Amendment was in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) when they reviewed a case where a resident was challenging the District of Columbia’s ban on private citizens possessing handguns in the home. In this case, the District of Columbia argued that the Second Amendment does not protect the right to keep and bear arms for private purposes. If that argument is shocking to some readers, just know that you’re not alone. Most of us grew up understanding that the Second Amendment guaranteed individual Americans the unique right to keep and bear arms. Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled what had seemed obvious to many, that the Second Amendment does in fact protect the individual right to keep and bear arms for private purposes.
Aside from a follow up decision which clarified that the decision in District of Columbia v. Heller also applies to the states, the Supreme Court hasn’t addressed the Second Amendment in over a decade. This has frustrated many Americans, particularly those living in places like New York and California that impose proper cause requirements. These proper cause requirements have been challenged in the courts numerous times, resulting in a circuit split at the appellate level. A circuit split means that the thirteen appellate courts just below the Supreme Court are not in agreement as to whether the proper cause requirements are Constitutional. The 2nd and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, having jurisdiction over California and New York respectively, have ruled that the proper cause requirements do not violate the Second Amendment, whereas the Seventh Circuit and the D.C. Circuit think they do.
Unfortunately, I spent many years living in a blue state that had a proper cause requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit. As we’ve discussed, this barred me and millions of other law-abiding citizens from legally carrying in public. I envied those who lived in “Constitutional Carry” states like Arizona that don’t even require a permit to carry a firearm in public. I have carried openly and concealed ever since moving to Arizona. However, I haven’t forgotten about what it was like to live in a state that didn’t respect this right. I haven’t forgotten about friends and family from where I came, many of whom are women and minorities that want to be able to carry a pistol when they have to walk alone from the bus stop at night.
The Supreme Court has the opportunity to level the playing field for all Americans with their upcoming review of New York’s law. Their decision can strike down proper cause requirements across the country. They can choose to honor the Constitution as it was plainly written or succumb to a class of political elites who’ve subverted the clearly written text of the Second Amendment while arrogantly prancing about with their own armed security details. I have hope that they’re going to get it right.