Justice Thomas Scolds the Supreme Court for Not Hearing Gun Rights Case

The Supreme Court just refused to hear a challenge to a California law that requires there be a 10-day waiting period after all gun sales, even if the person is already a registered gun owner.

This waiting period is known as a “cooling off period,” and California’s is the second longest in the country. It was enacted to give state authorities the time they need to run a background check and give individuals who may want to use the firearm to harm themselves or others a period of time to calm down. There are eight other states and the District of Columbia that have this kind of waiting period.

Jeff Silvester and Brandon Combs, California residents, both already own guns legally. They challenged the application of the law along with two nonprofits: The Calguns Foundation Inc. and The Second Amendment Foundation Inc. All four defendants argued that the waiting period is unconstitutional when it’s applied to “subsequent purchasers.” These are individuals who already own a firearm according to the AFS database in California, or have valid concealed-carry licenses.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did not agree with the challenge. It said the 10-day waiting period is a reasonable safety precaution for all purchasers of firearms and should not be suspended once a purchaser has been approved.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the court’s decision to let the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding the law stand.

“Nearly eight years ago, this court declared that the Second Amendment is not a ‘second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,’” Thomas said, quoting the court’s precedent. If a lower court treated another right so cavalierly, I have little doubt that this court would intervene,” Thomas wrote. “But as evidenced by our continued inaction in this area, the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this court.“If this case involved one of the court’s more favored rights, I sincerely doubt we would have denied” review, Thomas added. “I suspect that four members of this court would review a 10-day waiting period for abortions, notwithstanding a state’s purported interest in creating a ‘cooling off’ period.”

The Supreme Court also refused to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a California law that requires $5 of each $19 transfer fee on gun sales go to fund enforcement efforts against illegal firearm purchasers through California’s Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS).

The NRA and other state gun rights advocates argued that the law violates the Second Amendment because the criminal misuse of firearms targeted by the APPS is not sufficiently connected to the legal acquisition of firearms on which the fee is imposed.

These decisions by the Supreme Court come in the wake of a national gun control debate that is fiercely contested across the country because of the tragic mass shooting in a South Florida school. Seventeen people were killed and more than a dozen others injured last week at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

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Credit: The Hill