Bruen Dissent and Gun Control (Part 2)

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

Supreme Court - Gun RightsThe dissent continued: Only by ignoring an abundance of historical evidence supporting regulations restricting the public carriage of firearms can the Court conclude that New York’s law is not “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” See ante, at 15. In my view, when courts interpret the Second Amendment, it is constitutionally proper, indeed often necessary, for them to consider the serious dangers and consequences of gun violence that lead States to regulate firearms. The Second Circuit has done so and has held that New York’s law does not violate the Second Amendment. See Kachalsky v. County of Westchester, 701 F. 3d 81, 97–99, 101 (2012). I would affirm that holding. At a minimum, I would not strike down the law based only on the pleadings, as the Court does today—without first allowing for the development of an evidentiary record and without considering the State’s compelling interest in preventing gun violence. I respectfully dissent.

The question before us concerns the extent to which the Second Amendment prevents democratically elected officials from enacting laws to address the serious problem of gun violence. And yet the Court today purports to answer that question without discussing the nature or severity of that problem. In 2017, there were an estimated 393.3 million civilian held firearms in the United States, or about 120 firearms per 100 people. A. Karp, Estimating Global Civilian Held Firearms Numbers, Small Arms Survey 4 (June 2018), resources/SAS-BP-Civilian-Firearms-Numbers.pdf. That is more guns per capita than in any other country in the world. Ibid. (By comparison, Yemen is second with about 52.8 firearms per 100 people—less than half the per capita rate in the United States—and some countries, like Indonesia and Japan, have fewer than one firearm per 100 people. Id., at 3–4.)

The dissent relies heavily on statistics throughout its opinion. The reliance brings to mind the quote that is often attributed to Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This means that statistics can often be misleading. For example, gun violence death totals can also include the deaths of active shooters who were incapacitated by law enforcement. Totals also include numerous others who were shot in self-defense or in the defense of others by lawful firearms possessors.