Supreme Court Declines To Hear ALL Firearms Related Cases

    Supreme Court Denies Cert to firearms cases

    The United States Supreme Court has once again denied certiorari to all firearms related cases appealed from lower courts. These denials are added to a decade long list of other denials since the last landmark firearms case, McDonald v City of Chicago in 2010. The cases currently being rejected include arguments such as “justifiable need” in relation to carry a firearm, California’s “Unsafe Handgun Act”, prohibiting interstate handgun sales (in person sales), restrictions on firearms and magazines, and more we’ll look at below.  The denial to hear these cases means that whatever ruling was handed down by the last, highest court under the Supreme Court remains in effect within that court’s jurisdiction.


    Below are the cases which SCOTUS denied cert to, with a brief excerpt from each petition filed and the link to the petition so you can read them in full if you wish.

    Mance v Barr, 18-663

    Mance v Barr tackles the Federal prohibition on interstate handgun sales in person, which means that shipping and transfer fees are required as an added burden on the buyer. Whereas rifles and shotguns can be bought in person in most states.

    Federal law bars consumers from acquiring handguns outside their home state. This prohibition limits choice and price competition, and forces many handgun buyers to arrange and pay for the handguns’ shipment to in-state federal firearms licensees (“FFLs”). The government theorizes that the prohibition is necessary to combat the circumvention of state and local handgun laws. Yet some jurisdictions allow interstate handgun sales, or preclude the circumvention of handgun laws through retail channels by requiring police authorization for all handgun transfers. Meanwhile, federal law allows FFLs to sell rifles and shotguns to non-residents, so long as they comply with state and local laws.

    Pena v Horan, 18-843

    Pena v Horan is the case that addresses California’s Unsafe Handgun Act, which requires numerous safety features and testing just to be able to be available for sale in California.  Firearm manufacturers must also provide samples of each model to the state for testing if they wish to be added to the roster of “safe handguns”.

    California’s roster of “not unsafe” handguns is shrinking, as manufacturers cannot indefinitely support grandfathered models, and the state’s design demands have grown more restrictive. Since 2013, California requires new semiautomatic handguns to stamp ejected shell casings with unique microscopic arrays, but this “microstamping” technology does not exist in the market. California thus bars the acquisition of all semiautomatic handguns designed since 2013. It also bans the acquisition of most semiautomatic handguns for lacking magazine disconnect mechanisms and loaded chamber indicators, though it instructs consumers to disregard these features.

    Cheeseman v Polillo, 19-27 & Ciolek v New Jersey, 19-114

    Cheeseman v Polillo and Ciolek v New Jersey both assert that the State of New Jersey has effectually banned its residents from carrying handguns outside their home or property, with the exception of showing proof that they are in danger and have a “justifiable need” to go armed.

    The State of New Jersey broadly prohibits people from carrying or otherwise possessing handguns for the purpose of personal protection—anywhere but in their homes, businesses or on their own property—unless they obtain a permit. But to obtain this permit, an individual must be able to demonstrate “justifiable need to carry a handgun,” which the State defines as “the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun.” Except for the miniscule number of people who are able to meet this standard, the “need” requirement stands as a ban to bearing handguns in New Jersey. The question presented is whether States can limit the ability to bear handguns outside the home to only those found to have a sufficiently heightened “need” for self-protection.

    Gould v Lipson, 18-1272

    Gould v Lipson directly attacks the use of “licensing restrictions” as it applies to carrying handguns outside the home, and also questions the use of requiring people to show they have a “need” beyond their established right to do so.

    In District of Columbia v. Heller, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” 554 U.S. 570, 592 (2008), and in McDonald v. City of Chicago, it determined that this right “is fully applicable to the States,” 561 U.S. 742, 750 (2010). The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has concluded that the right to carry a firearm extends outside the home and that licensing restrictions that require citizens to show a special need for carrying a firearm effectively “destroy[ ] the ordinarily situated citizen’s right to bear arms” and therefore are categorically unconstitutional. Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650, 666 (D.C. Cir. 2017). By contrast, the court below, along with the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits, have upheld substantively indistinguishable licensing restrictions under a watered-down “intermediate scrutiny” analysis.

    Worman v Healey 19-404 & Wilson v Cook County

    Worman v Healey is a case that addresses the ban on certain firearms and standard capacity magazines (called “high capacity magazines” by some) within Massachusetts.  A similar case, Wilson v Cook County is driving the same fight against the Chicago area’s (Cook County) ban on certain firearms and features.

    Massachusetts prohibits the possession of firearms and ammunition magazines that are typically possessed by law-abiding, responsible citizens for lawful purposes, including self-defense. The court of appeals rejected Heller’s text, history, and tradition standard, instead applying a two-part approach to uphold the ban under intermediate scrutiny.

    This Court has held that the Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” District of Columbia
    v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 592 (2008). Cook County, Illinois, prohibits its residents from possessing a class of rifles and magazines that are among the most commonplace in the United States.

    Malpasso v Pallozzi, 19-423

    Malpasso v Pallozzi is another case arguing against a “justifiable need” to obtain a permit, but is fighting against Maryland’s “may issue” carry permitting system rather than New Jersey’s as seen above.

    Maryland prohibits its typical, law-abiding citizens from carrying a firearm outside the home without a permit, and provides permits only to those who can demonstrate, among other requirements, a “good and substantial reason” for carrying a firearm.

    Culp v Raoul, 19-487

    Culp v Raoul addresses the common theme we’ve explored in the ten cases petitioned to the Supreme Court thus far, but rather than address a state’s lack of permitting from the inside, Culp attacks it from the outside.  This case calls out Illinois’ refusal to allow non-residents to obtain permits to carry firearms, which is in essence a national reciprocity issue.

    This Court has held that the Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” District of Columbia
    v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 592 (2008). Illinois prohibits the non-residents of 45 states from applying for an Illinois concealed carry license, regardless of their individual qualifications and training.

    A brief look at this issue from Open Source Defense addressed the Supreme Court’s ability to grant cert to any case with only four Justices, of which they believed they had enough to do.  However, it brought up the question of if those four Justices believed they had a fifth Justice that would rule in favor of the 2nd Amendment, and may have intentionally kicked the can down the road to a time they believed may be more advantageous.

    What do you think about the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the above cases?  Do you believe at this time enough Justices would side with the 2nd Amendment?

    Doug E

    Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he’s taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT, or battleshipgrey61 on Instagram.