Strong Majority of Americans Approve of Supreme Court Decisions That Expand, Protect Their Gun Rights

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Dan Z. for TTAG

By Larry Keane

Americans are showing they approve of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of more individual rights for law-abiding Americans in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, instead of siding with more restrictions.

U.S. Supreme Court Justices aren’t elected. They don’t face approval or rejection by voters at the ballot box. They are insulated from political pressure to rule a certain way on the cases they hear. But the highest court in the land has garnered the approval of a large majority of Americans following their landmark decision last summer expanding Second Amendment protections.

As law-abiding Americans continue purchasing firearms in historic numbers and experience firsthand what the lawful process of buying a gun entails, they’re rejecting calls for more gun control and giving the Supreme Court good marks.

High Marks for Gun Rights

poll from Marquette University School of Law asked Americans about their opinions on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down New York’s restrictive and subjective “may issue” concealed carry gun control laws in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The 6-3 decision affirmed that the Second Amendment is an individual right that may be exercised both in the home and in public. Americans, by large numbers, support the Court’s decision nearly six months after

Second Amendment Supreme Court Bruen Poll
Courtesy law.marquette.edu

The Reload reported the poll showed 64 percent of respondents favor the Court’s decision to expand Second Amendment rights by striking down New York’s law with 36 percent strongly in favor. Conversely, just 35 percent noted they were opposed to the decision with 16 percent strongly opposed.

The poll suggested Americans remain happy with expanded gun rights. That notion is supported by firearm industry data showing historic levels of firearm purchases – roughly 40 million National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications between 2020-2021 – and a greatly diversifying gun-owning community, including large numbers of women, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans.

The public’s high regard for gun rights is also reflected by the continued drops in public opinion towards stricter gun laws. According to The Hill, the percentage of Americans who support stricter gun laws has fallen nine points since June, the same month the Supreme Court handed down its Bruen decision.

The latest Gallup poll shows 57 percent of U.S. adults “desire stricter gun laws,” compared to 66 percent in June. When Gallup first began tracking Americans’ feelings on gun control 30 years ago, support for stricter laws registered nearly 80 percent.

States Acted Fast

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the Bruen majority opinion, “When the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct.” Justice Thomas continued, writing . . .

The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees. We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.

States with strict gun control laws that could be struck down following Bruen took notice. The ruling was a catalyst for other lawsuits in states and forced others to proactively re-examine their laws, or risk being struck down as well by the High Court.

All told there were eight states with “may issue” laws similar to New York’s prior to the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. In California, Attorney General Rob Bonta released a directive telling state law enforcement to immediately “cease all ‘good cause’ requirements” for concealed carry applicants. Maryland dropped their concealed carry “good and substantial” reason requirements last summer and Massachusetts released new guidance telling permit issuing authorities they “should no longer deny or impose restrictions on licenses to carry a gun just because the applicant doesn’t have a ‘good reason’ to carry.” Legislators in Hawaii, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware have considered changes.

All the while, Americans have continued taking up their Second Amendment rights to purchase and possess a firearm. November marked the 39th month in a row of at least 1 million NICS verifications processed for the purchase of a gun.

In fact, in the states mentioned above, more than 705,000 law-abiding Americans have purchased a firearm since the Bruen decision was handed down, according to NSSF-adjusted NICS verification data.

More Rights, Fewer Restrictions

If there were any other indicators needed to show Americans are becoming more likely to support gun rights and reject stricter gun control, they need look no further than President Joe Biden’s inability to get Congress to pass his ban on so-called “assault weapons,” the semiautomatic rifles known as modern sporting rifles (MSRs). There are more than 24.4 million of these commonly-owned and popular rifles in circulation since 1990 and are purchased by Americans for self-defense, recreation and hunting.

ar-15 train range training assault rifle ar man
Shutterstock

Even with Democratic lawmakers in the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, support for the president’s so-called “assault weapons ban” couldn’t muster the support of all Democrats in the Senate and hasn’t received a vote.

What’s clear is that five months after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of more individual rights for law-abiding Americans in Bruen instead of siding with more restrictions, Americans are showing they approve.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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