Supreme Court, Guns and Missouri’s Misguidance

Supreme Court Rulings

The Supreme Court’s Conservative Majority May Dial Back on Gun Rights Extremism

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority seems ready to dial back its recent overindulgence in gun-rights extremism in the upcoming Second Amendment case, based on the justices’ comments and questions during a hearing. In its earlier ruling, the court stated that the government must allow people who are under domestic-violence restraining orders to keep their guns. However, it appears that this stance may be softened in the new ruling.

Enshrining the “Originalism” Concept

Last year’s landmark case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, saw the court’s conservative majority enshrining the concept of “originalism.” This means that modern laws must have some correlation to the law and culture at the time when the Constitution was written to be constitutionally valid. This standard, created by the court’s right-wing majority, requires that Americans’ today have their rights defined by what was legally and socially acceptable in the front-loading-musket era.

This new ruling may seem appropriate when applied to issues like women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery, but it fails to recognize the modern concept of limiting gun rights for alleged abusers based on domestic abuse. This leaves the issue murky since there was no such thing as domestic abuse restraining orders in colonial times.

The Appeal in the Bruen Ruling

The 5th District U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling in favor of a Texas drug dealer is arguably in keeping with the Supreme Court’s originalist doctrine in the Bruen ruling. The defendant argued that the state had no authority to convict him for violating a restraining order requiring him to give up his guns after beating his girlfriend, firing a gun to ward off bystanders, and threatening to shoot his girlfriend in the face. However, the appeals court found the defendant part of the political community entitled to the Second Amendment’s guarantees.

The Human Implications of Ideological Extremism

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been criticized for its ideological extremism. However, it appears they may be casting around for ways to reverse the appeals court and let the government confiscate guns from alleged abusers in last week’s hearing. The justices appear to be confronting the unacceptable real-world implications of their standard in the 21st century.

Even if the Supreme Court edges towards rationality on guns in the domestic-abuse case, Missouri law remains vulnerable to abusers since Missouri’s leading Republican leadership still claims that the state is outside the reach of federal gun laws. This view challenges the concept of federalism as laid out by the Framers and confirmed by the outcome of the civil war. Missouri law leaves domestic abuse victims vulnerable to their abusers because the current law doesn’t allow for disarming those under orders of protection.

The Legislature remains stubbornly opposed to red-flag laws that could have saved lives such as the student and teacher murdered last year in a rampage at the Central Visual Arts and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis. It is hoped that the Supreme Court would recognize the human implications of ideological extremism. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with Missouri’s leaders.

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