opinion   |   column

COLUMN: It is time for the Supreme Court to rule on gun control



Weeks after the mass shooting that took place at a Florida high school, leaving 17 people dead, we have still done nothing to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. 

Granted, our government is faced with competing duties. The United States Constitution requires them to “insure domestic tranquility” by protecting us from violence, but also to protect “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” 

The hardest part of this is that these two duties were not ones the Founding Fathers likely expected to conflict. We are supposed to have guns to protect ourselves, but now the sheer quantity and power of modern day firearms have crossed a line of harming us. The government needs to find some sort of middle ground, obviously.

The problem is that lawmakers are trying to reach this middle ground, and nothing is happening. Congress has brought up the issue time and time again and cannot move it forward

The president has been unclear about what he thinks on the issue and how he would like to cooperate with his lawmaking counterparts.

However, there is one key participant that has been staying particularly silent — the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court has been handed opportunities to settle this issue with its all-ending trump card of interpreting the text of the Constitution. However, it has denied these opportunities over and over again. 

On Feb. 20 the Supreme Court refused to hear the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case Silvester v. Becerra, a case regarding a California law requiring a waiting period before purchasing a firearm.

The Supreme Court has refused to provide a systematic ruling on the constitutionality of gun regulations for a decade. 

In 2008 the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that an individual does possess the right to own a gun, but limits to gun ownership could still exist. However, the justices did not explicitly state what those limitations were.

Justice Antonin Scalia refused to give further details, saying “since this case represents this court’s first in-depth examination of the Second Amendment, one should not expect it to clarify the entire field.”

There has been little court intervention in regard to gun control since — only McDonald v. Chicago in 2010, which ruled that the Second Amendment applies to the states through the 14th Amendment. 

Now is the perfect time for the Court to stop ignoring cases brought forth to them and solidify a definition of the rights given to us through the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court does this sort of thing all the time. In 2015, the Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry through interpretation of the 14th Amendment in Obergefell v. Hodges.

In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled women have a right to obtain an abortion in Roe v. Wade by interpreting a privacy penumbra — an implicit group of rights derived from other explicitly stated rights — within the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. 

This is no longer a policy issue that needs to be debated in a gridlocked Congress or something else about which Trump needs to tweet. Rather, is an issue for the Supreme Court.

It is time for the Court to start saving lives by following its designed decision-making path. As a first step toward gun control, the Supreme Court should hear a case regarding the Second Amendment and lay out a clear interpretation of the rights it does or does not provide. 

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