Supreme Court orders lower court to reconsider Massachusetts gun control law

New standard of Second Amendment jurisprudence could shape case differently.

Updated: October 4, 2022 - 11:29am

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The Supreme Court this week ordered a lower court to reconsider a controversial Massachusetts gun control law, a directive the high court gave in light of recently issued jurisprudence regarding the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

The Massachusetts law in question was brought by a state resident who was prohibited from purchasing pistols there due to his having been convicted of unlawfully carrying a handgun in 2004. The U.S. District Court of Massachusetts found that the law in question was constitutional under the Second Amendment, which broadly recognizes a right to possess firearms; an appeals court subsequently affirmed that decision. 

The Supreme Court, however, this week ordered the ruling vacated, and the case "remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for further consideration" in lights of its decision earlier this year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen.

The Bruen ruling held that states may not place undue burdens on citizens seeking handgun-carry permits, specifically that they may not demand residents demonstrate subjective reasons for seeking the permits. 

"The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not 'a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.

"We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need," he added.