Virginia gun rights and the Supreme Court landmark ruling
Virginia gun rights are strong, and the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling can lead to more expansive weapons rights
Virginia gun rights are among the strongest in the nation. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that before this week’s landmark Supreme Court Second Amendment ruling, Virginians risked harsh penalties in the two northern neighboring jurisdictions even when accidentally bringing their handguns there, for possession that is fully legal in the commonwealth. The court’s 6-3 ruling resoundingly shoots down gun control advocates’ claim that the Second Amendment’s reference to a well regulated militia watered down any person right to bear arms. NYS Rifle & Pistol Assoc., et al., v. Bruen, et al. (June 23, 2022). This 63-page majority opinion boils down to disallowing gun licensing requirements that require any more than making such applications ministerial tasks to permit law abiding people possession of such weaponry for self defensive purposes. Id.
NYS Rifle & Pistol does not weaken Virginia gun law criminalizing possessing firearms with drugs nor harsh penalties for felons possessing handguns
NYS Rifle & Pistol’s focus on Second Amendment protection for law-abiding people using handguns for self defense means that this Supreme Court decision leaves undisturbed the Virginia gun law applying harsh mandatory minimum jail time for possessing firearms with drugs, and long incarceration for felons possessing firearms. Furthermore, be aware of the Virginia statutory prohibition on firearm possession by respondents in protective order proceedings.
Virginia gun law favors gun rights over other weapon rights
In Virginia, one can lawfully possess a handgun in a closed glove compartment without a concealed handgun carry permit, but the same cannot be said for such storage of other weapons against successful criminal charge, conviction and even jailing. The reasoning of NYS Rilfe & Pistol supports expanding Virginia gun law for concealed handguns, to carrying licensing scheme to knives and other weapons for self defensive purposes.
Putting teeth in the Second Amendment helps put teeth in the rest of the Bill of Rights
This Supreme Court handgun ruling comes the same month as the massacre at the Texas public school, when calls throughout the country came to tighten gun control even more. Clearly, if fewer guns were in circulation we would have much less gun violence. Nonetheless, I do not condone violating the Bill of Rights in order to achieve even the noblest of goals. Until the Second Amendment gets amended or weakened (which likely will never have the votes to do so in our lifetime), that amendment’s protections must be fully applied as much as the other amendments to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. NYS Rifle & Pistol underlines as much: “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for selfdefense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780 (plurality opinion). We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers ers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the
witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for selfdefense.”NYS Rifle & Pistol. Virginia gun law is not the target of NYS Rifle & Pistol, rather than the six states that at the time had stricter procedures than Virginia to obtain a handgun carry permit.
Why did the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices dissent in NYS Rifle & Pistol?
Just to show you that no current Supreme Court member can be relied upon to consistently protect civil libertis, the court’s three usually most liberal justices dissented in NYS Rifle & Pistol. Nonetheless, with such a strong vote count (6-3) in this high court opinion, gun right protections of this level are here to stay for at least years to come.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for your free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.