What To Know Today
The Supreme Court’s next big gun case, explained. The high court has been virtually silent on gun rights since 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, which established that the Second Amendment includes the right to bear arms in the home. And SCOTUS has never settled the question of whether that right extends to the public sphere. That could soon change. This fall, oral arguments will begin in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, which seeks to overturn a policy requiring people applying for handgun licenses to demonstrate a pressing need to carry firearms in public. Legal experts tell me a ruling that strikes New York’s “proper cause” requirement for concealed carry could ultimately compel six other states, including California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, to scrap or alter their own permitting rules. It could also imperil New York City’s comprehensive vetting process for concealed carry permits — and lead to more New Yorkers packing heat. Read on for more.
Body-worn cameras are failing to expose police misconduct. Since the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, law enforcement agencies have embraced bodycams in the interest of transparency. Police reform advocates hoped the cameras would catch officers using excessive force and aid in prosecutions and civil settlements, and ultimately reduce citizen complaints. But police departments, backed by powerful unions and advocacy groups, have delayed or heavily edited footage released to the public, prompting drawn-out court battles. This heavy-handed approach turns the technology “into a propaganda tool,” an ACLU attorney tells USA Today. The head of a nonprofit policing group that uses bodycam footage to develop deescalation tactics says such obfuscations erode public confidence in law enforcement.
“Second Amendment sanctuary” laws get their first court challenge. Over the last few years, at least 1,200 cities and towns have passed declarations that forbid local officials from enforcing most federal and state gun laws, and in some cases, impose fines on them if they do. Many experts say sanctuary resolutions are largely symbolic and not legally binding. That’s about to be tested in Columbia County, Oregon, where voters last year narrowly approved a gun law nullification measure. Several county residents, joined by the state attorney general, are asking a judge to overturn the ordinance under a provision in state law that allows a judge to examine a measure before it’s enacted. Darrell Miller of the Duke Center for Firearms Law tells the AP that gun rights advocates could very well prevail by arguing the anti-commandeering doctrine, which holds that the federal government can’t make state and local officials enforce federal law. The Supreme Court cited the anti-commandeering concept to strike down part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1997.
South Carolina governor signs open carry bill. Under a measure signed into law by Republican Governor Henry McMaster on Monday, residents with concealed carry permits and training can openly display their weapons. The legislation was opposed by law enforcement groups. Republican state lawmakers had hoped to remove the concealed carry permitting requirement altogether, joining 19 other states, but the push stalled in the Senate, which lost a member in the 2015 Charleston church shooting. The new law also allows localities to restrict open carrying during permitted events, including protests.
48 people were shot, 5 fatally, in Chicago this past weekend. Two uniformed police officers and six children were among those wounded by violence in the city between Friday and Sunday. Five people were shot in a single incident, two of them fatally. Speaking to the news media on Monday, Police Superintendent David Brown decried the gunfire but pointed to progress: The homicide clearance rate is between 58 and 60 percent so far this year, the highest since 2015, he said. That’s up from 44.5 percent in 2020.
John Oliver uses The Trace’s reporting to chart the rise of “stand your ground” laws. The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” devoted his Sunday show to the controversial self-defense laws, which authorize the use of lethal force in response to a perceived threat and have been adopted by 30 states. Critics have called stand your ground a “license to kill” people of color, since white people who invoke the law are less likely to face charges when the victim is Black. And the racial bias works both ways, as Black people who invoke the law are more often charged with murder than white people. Oliver traces the movement to the National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer, who was the subject of a 2018 profile by Mike Spies — which got a shout-out on Oliver’s show.
10,000 — the estimated number of concealed carry handgun licenses that have been issued by the New York City Police Department to residents of the five boroughs and people who work in the city but live elsewhere, according to a Daily News analysis of a sampling of NYPD data.*
*Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the estimated number of concealed carry permits issued to New York City residents.