It’s been an interesting summer for court cases dealing with the Second Amendment and gun control.
First, the United States Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit ruled on July 25, 2017, that among the core protections afforded by the Second Amendment is the right to carry a concealed handgun outside of the home. Wrenn v. District of Columbia. Wrenn was decided by a three-judge panel, and has been appealed by the District of Columbia to an en banc court. It has not yet been decided whether this appeal will be heard, but if the decisions of other courts are any indication, an en banc appeal will probably occur.
If the decision of the three-judge panel remains in place, or an en banc appeal affirms the panel, there will be a split in the federal circuits regarding a citizen’s right to carry a concealed weapon outside the home, or place of business. Kachalsky v. City of Westchester. If this occurs, it is likely this case will be heard by the United States Supreme Court.
District of Columbia v. Heller, as many know, only reached a citizen’s right to possess a handgun in the confines of the home for purposes of self-defense. Wrenn would seek to take this right to a new level, one already recognized as a right by numerous states, but hardly all. Maryland’s restrictive law, similar to the District of Columbia’s, has been upheld by the Fourth Circuit. Woollard v. Gallagher.
In a second case of note implicating the Second Amendment, the plaintiffs in Kolbe are seeking review of the Fourth Circuit’s en banc decision holding that assault-style rifles are not protected under the Second Amendment because they are “like M-16s.” M-16’s are the military version of a modern sporting rifle, unavailable to citizens due to their fully automatic capability. As yet, the Supreme Court has not acted on Kolbe’s petition.
Likely, if the Supreme Court does grant certiorari, it will take up the additional issue of what level of scrutiny should be applied to laws such as Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act of 2013—intermediate or strict. A three-judge panel in Kolbe remanded the case to the trial court for it to apply strict scrutiny. However, the en banc panel held that if these laws were to be tested, the proper standard is intermediate scrutiny, the application of which will almost always pass muster if there is stated a basis for the law.