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SCOTUS Won’t Hear Case Against Law Forcing Buyers to Wait for a New Gun

By: Patience Johnson

The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed a constitutional challenge to a California law that requires people to wait 10 days before they can take possession of a new firearm.

Gun rights advocates challenged the law in court, arguing the waiting period violates the Second Amendment.

“A trial court ruled in their favor, concluding that the law did not serve an important governmental interest,” NBC News reported. “But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, reversed that ruling. And now the Supreme Court is leaving that appeals court ruling intact.”

Justices have repeatedly refused to hear challenges to strict gun regulations, including limits on who can carry a weapon in public and state bans on the sale of semi-automatic weapons.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a 14-page dissent outlining his fellow justices’ neglect of the Second Amendment and their attentiveness to other constitutional rights. He wrote that the Supreme Court would have mustered the necessary four votes to put this case on the court’s docket had a different right, such as the right to free speech or abortion, been at issue.

“The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this court’s constitutional orphan,” Thomas wrote. “And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message.”

The Supreme Court has not accepted a gun rights issue for almost 10 years, when the Supreme Court struck down ordinances in Washington and Chicago that prohibited the private possession of handguns as violations in the Second Amendment.

The court also turned away a constitutional challenge to ordinances in San Diego and Los Angeles, which limit concealed carry permits.

“While gun owners may obtain a permit from a county sheriff if they can show good cause, many California counties set a very high bar for who qualifies under this standard,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “In upholding the restrictions, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the Second Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public. Only Thomas and new Justice Neil M. Gorsuch dissented then.”

The Supreme Court considers California’s 10-day waiting period for gun purchases a reasonable safety precaution and one that does not violate the constitutional right to own a gun.

A buyer must wait 10 days before the seller can hand over a firearm, according to California law. California, eight other states, and the District of Columbia enforce waiting periods for the purchase of firearms. Hawaii is the only other state with a longer waiting period of 14 days.

States with required waiting periods say the firearm purchase delay has two advantages. It allows time for a thorough background check and a moratorium, which allows people who potentially buy a gun to harm themselves, or others a chance to calm down.

Most background checks are completed quickly, and the cooling-off period is pointless for those who already own a gun, according to Thomas.

“Common sense suggests that subsequent purchases contemplating violence or self-harm would use the gun they already own, instead of taking all the steps to legally buy a new one in California,” Thomas wrote.

Patience Johnson is a recent News Editorial graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi and current freelance writer for Gunpowder Magazine, writing from Mississippi. Contact her at patience.ejohnson@gmail.com.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.