U.S. top court snubs challenge to California gun waiting period

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.

The Supreme Court is rejecting two challenges by guns rights groups to California laws regulating firearms' sales.

Tuesday is the Supreme Court's first day in session since a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and murdered 17 people. Florida Governor Rick Scott said during a joint news conference. And, he said, the court had not clarified the standard for reviewing gun regulations for nearly 10 years.

In the Ninth Circuit, Thomas said, it seems that "rights that have no basis in the Constitution receive greater protection than the Second Amendment". Two years later, by the same margin, they said that Second Amendment rights were "fundamental", in a decision throwing out Chicago's ban on handguns.

The waiting period gives a gun buyer inclined to use it for an impulsive goal a "cooling off" period, which has been shown in studies to reduce handgun suicides and homicides, the state said in legal papers. "Our continued refusal to hear Second Amendment cases only enables this kind of defiance", he wrote.

Gun rights advocates challenged California's law in court, claiming it is unconstitutional. In reviewing whether a law appropriately limits the Second Amendment right to bear arms, Thomas argues, the court must evaluate evidence that such a measure is necessary to meet a governmental interest.

The Ninth Circuit previously ruled against the challenge, but at issue in the appeal to the Supreme Court was whether they applied the correct standard of scrutiny in making their decision. Among other things, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the Court in Heller, "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms".

Another finding by the trial court that Thomas quoted is that individuals who meet California's requirements for a concealed-carry license are uniquely "unlikely" to "engage in impulsive acts of violence".

The second case involves gun owners and the National Rifle Association challenging a California law that imposes fees on all firearms transactions in order to pay for background checks.

"The Ninth Circuit did not address these obvious mismatches between the ends and means of California's waiting period", Thomas wrote.

  • Tracy Klein