Justice Thomas calls out colleagues as SCOTUS rejects case on unconstitutional California gun laws

Lost among the headlines of the Supreme Court’s busy Monday was news that the court rejected a 2nd Amendment case against unconstitutional California handgun laws. But Justice Clarence Thomas’s scathing rebuke of his colleagues’ unwillingness to hear the case signals that the 2nd Amendment still has hearty support in the nation’s highest court.

In the case, Peruta vs. California, San Diego resident Edward Peruta was suing to affirm the rights of Americans to bear arms for self defense outside the home. In several California jurisdictions, politicians have made it difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry self-defense firearms by limiting concealed carry permits to individuals who can prove “good cause” to need protection.

“Simply fearing for one’s personal safety is not considered good cause,” a San Diego official said when the issue came before a court in the city.

Peruta’s lawyers argued that the qualification for concealed carry rights effectively makes it impossible to carry a firearm for self defense in San Diego.

“The whole point of the Sheriff’s policy is to confine concealed-carry licenses to a very narrow subset of law-abiding residents,” the attorneys wrote. “And because California law prohibits openly carrying a handgun outside the home, the result is that the typical law-abiding resident cannot bear a handgun for self-defense outside the home at all.”

Thomas, in an opinion shortly after the case failed to muster the required four-justice approval to continue, suggested that his colleagues have been insulated from everyday life for too long.

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous,” Thomas wrote.

“But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it,” he added.

Thomas went on to note that the California case provided the court a prime opportunity to provide long-needed clarification in the 2nd Amendment debate.

“The Second Amendment’s core purpose further supports the conclusion that the right to bear arms extends to public carry,” the justice wrote. “Even if other Members of the Court do not agree that the Second Amendment likely protects a right to public carry, the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively.”

Thomas was joined in his criticism by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch.

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