WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to take up a case over whether Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms in public.
It comes amid a rumbling and divisive debate between pro- and anti-gun lobbies after several high-profile shootings or massacres in recent years.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, “a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country,” but states have enacted various laws governing gun ownership.
John Drake, who operates an ATM business, was challenging a strict New Jersey state law that requires people wanting to carry a handgun outside the home to demonstrate a “justifiable need.”
Backed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), Drake argued that his employees need to be able to defend themselves because they are carrying large sums of money.
The NRA said in its argument backing Drake: “The Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry weapons for the purpose of self-defense — not just for self-defense within the home, but for self-defense — period.”
It added that the “right to bear arms for self-defense” was “as important outside the home as inside.”
In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to possess a gun at home for self-defense.
But in dismissing the complaint, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court of appeal decision stating that the New Jersey law is consistent with the Second Amendment.
It has declined to hear similar challenges to the concealed carry laws of New York and Maryland.
Nineteen states supported New Jersey.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence welcomed Monday’s decision, saying that “the corporate gun lobby has launched a nationwide legal assault in which they have tried — and failed — to deprive Americans of the gun laws they want and need to make their families and communities safe from gun violence, and keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
“Courts across the country have overwhelmingly refused to expand the Second Amendment into a broad right for virtually anyone to carry any gun anywhere.”