More Than an Amicus Brief
An amicus brief means “friend of the court.” In this case, we mean the brief spearheaded by the Attorneys General of Arizona and Missouri, and joined by 26 other states, asking the Supreme Court of the United States to set aside restrictions in New York, and other states, that will not allow citizens to fully exercise their rights under the Second Amendment of the United State Constitution.
About 6 states in the Northeast have restrictions that severely curtail both the right to own, but especially to carry, a firearm for self-protection. New York requires a permit to carry and then makes the process so difficult and expensive, that it deliberately is intended to deny Constitutional rights, based on an ideological basis. New York City is even more restrictive and they require that the applicant prove they also have a “special need.” This provision allows bureaucrats to exercise considerable discretion to play with arbitrary and subjective rules, usually denying the permit.
The right to keep is one thing, the right to bear is another, and in New York, you virtually cannot have a handgun outside of the house.
Since the Heller decision in 2008, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the Second Amendment applied to the individuals’ rights to “keep and bear arms”, and was not restricted to “the militia.” Despite this ruling, because of some subsequent muddled court decisions, states laws remain blocking the right to carry.
This brief that we make available here. It is quite a good summary for those who advocate for the Second Amendment. As such, it is worth a read, as it is a great source of facts and arguments. We will summarize some of the high points for you. You will also find more briefs from many other human rights organizations.
Hopefully, this will sharpen your own verbal skills in supporting the Second Amendment, and frankly provide a better grounding if you simply don’t understand what that Amendment was intended to do.
The brief starts by suggesting that New York restrictions threaten the liberty of citizens in every state, not just New York, so we all have an interest in this case. They call on the Court, “to restore the original meaning of the right to bear arms.”
The brief argues that citizens are safer when they can carry for self-defense, that there is less crime, those that can resist a criminal act with a firearm are less likely to be injured, and that in about 95% of cases, just the presentation of a gun can stop the crime. In short, arguments that restrict the right to carry based on the idea that said restrictions enhance public safety, are spurious.
Moreover, actual evidence shows those who carry a weapon, are more law-abiding than the general public and the suggestion that the exercise of these rights leads to more mayhem, is bogus.
The brief argues that under Heller, the Second Amendment should be applied to the states and that many lower courts have misinterpreted Heller, leaving the right to bear arms in limbo. The Supreme Court needs to clear this up.
Taking arguments from Heller, the brief points out that the right to bear arms, pre-dates the Constitution and comes directly from natural law, the right of self-preservation, and the rights of Englishmen. They go on to cite numerous cases where “the people’s right to bear arms in defense of themselves cannot be questioned”.
Many states fell short of protecting Constitutional rights, as we know from our own sad history with slavery, and many states, both before and after the Civil War, went on to deny Second Amendment rights to free blacks. They point out that this was true not only in the South but also in places like the 1841 decision in Cincinnati to disarm all blacks.
In short, the right to keep and bear arms is derivative from the basic human right of self-preservation and protection, and English law, and should not be abrogated by any legislature.
Finally, the brief also touches on a sensitive point for some, given the current state of unrest in our country. That is, that the right to keep and bear arms backstops our other liberties since it is a strong check on the arbitrary power of rulers. Thus, the right is not just for personal protection, but for the protection of other liberties from abusive government.
That latter argument may not sit well with those that want to overturn our existing Constitutional order, but it is clear, that is what the Founders intended. People inherently have the right to personal self-protection, and the right to protect themselves from a government that violates their natural rights.
This is a very important Supreme Court case and Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich deserves our praise and support for his efforts. The case coming before the Court is New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett. It will be a real test of the new appointees to the Court.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.