As anyone who’s ever taken a sixth-grade civics course knows: the legislature passes the laws, the executive branch enforces them, and if the citizens have a problem with any laws, they can challenge them in the courts. The Supreme Court is often the last stand for many laws, but sometimes, the court chooses pass on hearing certain cases, as it has for three cases involving gun control.
According to Reuters, the Court “declined to wade into the politically volatile issue of gun control by leaving intact three court rulings rejecting challenges to federal and state laws.” Two of the cases were backed by the National Rifle Association, involving laws that make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase firearms or ammunition or for them to carry handguns in public in Texas. The third case was not led by the NRA but instead was brought by citizens in Washington, D.C., who wished to purchase guns from Virginia but could not because of a combination of local and federal laws.
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These all would have been landmark cases had they made their way before the Supreme Court, but by passing on the cases, it is effectively allowing all of these laws to stand. The Texas case, in particular, would have been remarkable because it would have forced a ruling on whether or not “open carry” of weapons is a protected Second Amendment right. Currently, this is a question the Court has not yet addressed.
While the other two cases don’t exactly represent really significant changes to U.S. gun policy, the Court’s decision to pass on these cases is seen as a loss for the NRA. Despite legal gun-owners’ willingness to follow gun control laws, the NRA has become far more radical of late. It has taken the position that any gun regulation at all is an attack on Second Amendment freedoms. Given the recent media focus on mass shootings lately, this has arguably hurt the gun rights movement in the court of public opinion.