In his dissent to the Supreme Court of the United State’s (SCOTUS) June 26 announcement that it would not review Peruta v. California, Justice Clarence Thomas contended he finds it “improbable” that the Second Amendment only protects a right to carry a gun in one’s own home.
Peruta has become on the focal point of opposition to California’s “good cause” requirement for issuance of concealed carry permits.
On January 12, 2017, Breitbart News reported that SCOTUS was asked to review Peruta in hopes of securing a ruling in support of the fundamental right to bear arms. Petitioners specifically wanted SCOTUS to rule “whether the Second Amendment entitles ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense in some manner, including concealed carry when open carry is forbidden by state law.”
But on June 26, SCOTUS announced it would not review the case, thereby leaving the “good cause” requirement for concealed carry in place.
Cornell published the text of Thomas’s dissent, in which he warned that SCOTUS is treating the Second Amendment “as a disfavored right.” He wrote that “the Constitution does not rank certain rights above others;” therefore, SCOTUS ought not adopt a hierarchical ranking for them either.
Moreover, Thomas stressed that SCOTUS missed a perfect opportunity to rule “definitively” to a Ninth Circuit en banc decision that cut against previous SCOTUS rulings and precedent. He wrote:
[SCOTUS] has already suggested that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry firearms in public in some fashion. As we explained in Heller, to “bear arms” means to “ ‘wear, bear, or carry upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.’ ” …The most natural reading of this definition encompasses public carry.
Yet the Ninth Circuit ruled that “the Second Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”
Taken to its logical conclusion, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling means the right to keep and bear arms is limited to one’s home, and this is a ruling Justice Thomas rejects. He wrote, “I find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.”
Are First Amendment protections limited to the confines of one’s home? Are Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendment protections so limited as well? Thomas’s point is that they are not–that natural rights are ours wherever we are as we go through our day. By refusing to review a ruling that limited Second Amendment rights to one’s abode, Thomas believes SCOTUS displayed a tendency to treat the Second Amendment “as a disfavored right.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in dissent.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.