California’s ban on assault weapons remains in force after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to it. The action lets stand a ruling last year by the federal appeals court in San Francisco that citizens have no constitutional right to own guns that state laws prohibit.
The San Francisco Chronicle says that the lower court ruling, binding in nine Western states, contradicts a 2001 ruling by a federal appeals court in New Orleans and the position of the Bush administration that the Constitution protects individual gun ownership while allowing reasonable regulation. The Supreme Court last addressed the constitutional issue in 1939, when it upheld a ban on interstate shipment of sawed-off shotguns.
The court “can’t run and hide from the issue,” said Gary Gorski, a Sacramento lawyer gun owners who challenged the California law.
Sanford Levinson, a Second Amendment expert and law professor at the University of Texas, said the Supreme Court is unlikely to take up the issue until a lower court overturns a gun law. Pro-gun groups, Levinson said, should look “for a schoolteacher who lives in a rough part of town where police almost never show up, who has a gun in her glove compartment and is charged with violating some state law.”