Published December 20, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide this month whether to hear two cases seeking clarification on what the Constitution’s framers intended in granting citizens the right to not only own but also “bear” arms.
Lyle Denniston, a National Constitution Center adviser, writes on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website that the National Rifle Association has, of late, brought two cases before the Supreme Court challenging prevailing legal wisdom that while the Second Amendment grants U.S. citizens the right to own or “keep” arms, that right does not necessarily extend to their ability to “bear” arms outside of their personal residences.
In one case, rooted in Texas, the NRA is reportedly challenging a state law permitting minors to own guns, but stipulating all the same that they are, in fact, too young to apply for -- and thus possess -- the license necessary to carry them in public.
“The explicit guarantee of the right to ‘bear’ arms would mean nothing,” the NRA’s filing in the Texas matter reportedly argues, “if it did not protect the right to ‘bear’ arms outside of the home, where the Amendment already guarantees that they may be ‘kept.’
“The most fundamental canons of construction forbid any interpretation that would discard this language as meaningless surplus.”
In the other case, the NRA is reportedly challenging a decision rendered earlier by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that upheld federal and state laws governing minors’ access to guns.
While the Supreme Court affirmed the right to “keep” a firearm six years ago, it has reportedly refused in the ensuing epoch to take up the question of what exactly it means to “bear” arms and where one can carry them.
Should the Supreme Court ultimately decide to hear the cases, the Inquirer reports the matters will likely be held over until the court's next term in October.