by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The irony is rich. Old Joe Biden, floundering in the polls and needing a distraction, seized on the recent mass shootings to launch a gun control push. Many conservatives are panicked by his talk of an “assault weapons” ban, whatever that means, and outlawing all 9mm ammunition.
Yet, without any compromise on badly needed school safety provisions, it is hard to see even modest federal gun restrictions going forward. In fact, the Republican proposal is starting to look like no more than what McConnell, and even Trump, was offering the Dems in 2019. Meanwhile, the constitutional conservatives on the Supreme Court are going to hand down another important decision on self-defense and the Second Amendment.
The looming SCOTUS decision everyone knows about is the expected overturning of Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case. But also coming this June is the Bruen case, which should strike down the granddaddy of all American gun control laws: New York’s 1911 Sullivan Act. Sullivan was a corrupt Tammany Hall politician, and there are many scholars who think Sullivan’s motives in essentially disarming law-abiding citizens of their pistols was to make life easier for his many criminal compatriots.
The Sullivan Act is a discretionary permit law, allowing the police arbitrary power to decide to whom they issue a pistol permit. In New York City, for example, it’s often been easy to get one if you are wealthy or famous, like Robert De Niro. Yet ordinary people who live and work in dangerous neighborhoods are routinely denied gun permits, like the plaintiffs in Bruen.
When this case is decided, there will of course be the usual gnashing of teeth by the gun-grabbers, who will shriek about how the Second Amendment is not a personal right, and it’s just for members of a state militia.