Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to California gun law

Moira Smith. Credit Ash Adams

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

The justices did not comment in leaving in place two rulings by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Demonstrations calling on Congress to enact stricter gun control laws have been led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. -where a gunman last week killed 14 students and three staff members.

California is one of eight states and the District of Columbia that imposes waiting periods for the purchase of a firearm, and it is longer than all of them except Hawaii. 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.

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Thomas issued a lengthy dissent in the 10-day waiting period case to criticize some lower courts for treating 2nd Amendment rights "cavalierly".

"Her obsessive quest to try and destroy Clarence Thomas [and pull her career out of free fall] has resulted in another 4,200 words of warmed-over, long-ago debunked, and perjurious allegations", Severino writes of Abramson. "Our continued refusal to hear Second Amendment cases only enables this kind of defiance", he wrote.

"If this case involved one of the Court's more favored rights, I sincerely doubt we would have denied certiorari", Thomas observed. Writing in dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas faulted his colleagues for their "inaction" and for turning the Second Amendment into "a disfavored right in this Court".

"Because the right to keep and bear arms is enumerated in the Constitution, courts can not subject laws that burden it to mere rational-basis review". It said the 10-day waiting period is a reasonable safety precaution for all purchasers of firearms and need not be suspended once a purchaser has been approved. In November, the court left intact Maryland's prohibition on semiautomatic assault weapons and Florida's ban on openly carrying handguns in public.

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Silvester, however, is also part of a larger crusade by Thomas to convince his colleagues to hear more gun cases.

Monday's case is only the latest in a series of pro-gun control rulings the high court has refused to review. The judges said they agreed with the state's argument that "waiting ten days may deter subsequent purchasers from buying new weapons that would be better suited for a heinous use".

Saying that it's been 10 years since the court clarified the standard for assessing Second Amendment claims, Thomas notes that the court has by contrast granted review, in this term alone, to "at least five cases involving the First Amendment and four cases involving the Fourth Amendment".

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