Commentary

The right to ‘keep and bear arms’ over the preservation of life

June 24, 2022 7:01 am

The U.S. Supreme Court's Thursday ruling on concealed carry laws poses a great danger to all, says a Montclair State University professor. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the right to bear arms extends beyond one’s residence.

The ruling stems from a case brought forth against New York, challenging the mandate around citizens needing to prove they are fit to conceal carry. Incidentally, prior to this ruling, New Jersey law also mandated approval by a court.

The implications of this ruling will have dire consequences on local municipalities to determine what gun laws best suit their jurisdiction. For instance, densely populated states such as California, New Jersey, and New York have long had to face atrocities around gun violence. The logic behind stifling conceal carry had much to do with hampering violent gun crime. Clearly, these states face a unique terrain when it comes to responding to gun violence, yet this was not seriously considered by the ruling conservative majority.

Unfortunately, such a ruling sends the message that the preservation of life does not exceed one’s right to carry a gun.

Given the mass atrocities of late, particularly at schools and public shopping areas, one might expect the justices to take a humanistic approach toward deciding on these issues of major consequence. Sadly, this ruling shows that the court is more about ruling through uber-conservative activism than it is about the preservation of life — and the right of the locals to determine what best suits them regarding crime.

We are seeing and expecting similar rulings that will impact the administration of justice, such as the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade and the criminalization of abortion. Or, how the court has limited the enforcement power of Miranda, making it harder for citizens to seek a resolution in cases where their civil rights were violated by police.

Such a major change in law will undoubtedly have a dire effect on law enforcement. Not only does this complicate how police can respond to gun violence, but it may also heighten perceived fears that officers have while on the job.

Tensions may likely increase in those cities where gun violence is already high. How will officers determine who has the right to carry and who does not? How might race factor into police’s decision-making processes? Will there be an increase in minoritized citizens being perceived as dangerous for having a gun on their person? Will these citizens be mistakenly killed? These are longstanding issues that have plagued law enforcement for some time, and this ruling will increase these tensions.

This ruling should not be taken lightly and poses a great danger to all. Congress has to make a concerted effort to address the real danger that now comes from the highest court of the land.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jason M. Williams
Jason M. Williams

Jason M Williams, Ph.D., is an associate professor of justice studies at Montclair State University.

MORE FROM AUTHOR