Bruen Dissent and Gun Control (Part 39)

by | Dec 25, 2022 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

Supreme Court - Gun RightsJustice Breyer continued: The Court cites three cases considering common-law offenses, ante, at 42–44, but those cases do not support the view that only public carriage in a manner likely to terrify violated American successors to the Statute of Northampton. If anything, they suggest that public carriage of firearms was not common practice. At least one of the cases the Court cites, State v. Huntly, wrote that the Statute of Northampton codified a pre-existing common-law offense, which provided that “riding or going armed with dangerous or unusual weapons, is a crime against the public peace, by terrifying the good people of the land.” 25 N. C., at 420–421 (quoting 4 Blackstone, Commentaries, at 149; emphasis added). Huntly added that “[a] gun is an ‘unusual weapon’” and that “[n]o man amongst us carries it about with him, as one of his every-day accoutrements—as a part of his dress— and never, we trust, will the day come when any deadly weapon will be worn or wielded in our peace-loving and law-abiding State, as an appendage of manly equipment.” 25 N. C., at 422.

True, Huntly recognized that citizens were nonetheless “at perfect liberty” to carry for “lawful purpose[s]”—but it specified that those purposes were “business or amusement.” Id., at 422–423. New York’s law similarly recognizes that hunting, target shooting, and certain professional activities are proper causes justifying lawful carriage of a firearm. See supra, at 12–13.

The quotation about peace-loving and law-abiding people seems to support the dissent’s position. However, in the past few years, the police seem less proactive while crime is more common and accepted. This calls into question how “law-abiding” our society is as a whole. The quote can just as easily be spun to support the majority’s permitting a law-abiding person to carry a firearm to protect themselves and dependents when the police are unavailable.