Supreme Court won't hear challenge to California gun waiting period

Moira Smith. Credit Ash Adams
Moira Smith. Credit Ash Adams
Author

21 February, 2018

The dissent notes that California enacted its waiting period - which he called "the second longest in the country" - both to allow time for state authorities to run background checks and to allow would-be gun buyers time to calm down in case they might use the firearm to cause harm.

Justice Clarence Thomas blasted the Supreme Court Monday for refusing to review a California law imposing a ten-day waiting period on the purchase of firearms.

A series of mass shootings, including the one in which a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school on February 14, have added to the long-simmering US debate over gun control and the availability of firearms. Florida Governor Rick Scott said during a joint news conference. "The Ninth Circuit would not have done this for any other constitutional right", Thomas maintained. And, he said, the court had not clarified the standard for reviewing gun regulations for nearly 10 years. Not because Thomas talked about watching porn with a female colleague or otherwise behaved crudely in the workplace, but "because of the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath, saying he had never talked to Hill about porn or to other women who worked with him about risque subject matter", writes Abramson. He said its inaction is a signal the Second Amendment is "a disfavored right in this Court". In November, the court left intact Maryland's prohibition on semiautomatic assault weapons and Florida's ban on openly carrying handguns in public.

Blaming cert denials like today's for "enabl [ing] this kind of defiance", Thomas noted that the court has "not heard argument in a Second Amendment case for almost eight years".

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Only eight other states and the District of Columbia have any kind of waiting period.

"If this case involved one of the court's more favored rights, I sincerely doubt we would have denied certiorari", Thomas said.

The justices said they won't hear arguments from gun-rights groups and two California residents who say they already own firearms and would quickly pass another background check.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas issued an opinion blasting his colleagues for failing to take up the challenge of California's waiting period. While those laws reflected the wisdom of "thousands of years of human history in every society known to have populated the planet", they faced a much tougher time in the Ninth Circuit than California's new and unusual waiting period for firearms. As apparent examples of rights without a constitutional basis, he cited Ninth Circuit rulings on same-sex marriage - later upheld by the Supreme Court - and abortion. "It instead dismissed any tailoring concerns by observing that intermediate scrutiny requires 'only that the regulation "promote a substantial government interest that would be achieved less effectively absent the regulation"'".


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