Supreme Court Addresses Constitutionality of the Second Amendment


On Nov. 3, the Supreme Court addressed a case interpreting the second amendment for the first time in over a decade. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Second Amendment has sparked spirited conversations for decades. On Nov. 3, for the first time in more than a decade, the Supreme Court clarified the amendment in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen after Robert Nash and Brandon Koch applied for a concealed carry firearm license for the purpose of self-defense. Both applicants were denied due to the state’s settlement that neither met the requirements for providing a “proper cause,” which requires proof that you will be unsafe in public unless you are armed and protected. In response, both applicants filed for violation of their Second Amendment rights.

In the United States, gun laws differ by state. In New York, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maryland and New Jersey, the right to keep a gun in a household for self-defense is permitted, but the right to carry a gun in public is only permissible with “good cause,” which requires a separate public carrying license from the state. Considering these states are home to a substantial portion of the population and some of the most densely populated cities in the country, requiring a proper cause is sensible. One should not feel the need to carry a gun in a public space to feel safe. The Supreme Court’s handling on Wednesday discussed whether or not requiring a proper cause counterbalanced the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

In 2008, the Supreme Court concluded in District of Columbia v. Heller that one has the right to keep a gun in their house for self-defense, but other restrictions can be applied by states. This leaves the Supreme Court with perhaps the most open ended concern: what about carrying a firearm in public? This is not directly addressed in the constitution, as there is no definition of the verb “to bear.” These states absolutely have the right to require a proper cause in order to carry a firearm in public. If a citizen lacks a strong enough reason to be accepted as a proper cause, then there is no rationale for them being armed in public. 

Nash and Koch argued that if citizens, like themselves, who have perfect records can’t get approved, then the system must be flawed. In my opinion, being a good law abiding citizen is not necessarily enough reason to arm yourself; you need a good cause. 

With a dominating conservative presence, suspicion surrounding the constitutionality of the state’s law was high on Wednesday. With the appearance of Trump’s appointed justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch, New York will have a run for its money. All three justices have been clear advocates for gun rights in the past. In the lower courts, Kavanaugh and Barett were prominent advocates for rethinking gun regulation frameworks. If these same viewpoints persist, and depending on the justices’ ability to sway other members, the strong support of gun rights has the potential to rule over this case. 

This emphasis on gun rights might put public and city safety at risk. The 63 conservative ratio is one of the major concerns in this supreme court case. If the justices continue on the path of protecting a rule from our 234-year old constitution, they will put the American population at risk.

Requiring a proper cause is not a violation of anyone’s rights. Rather, it is a safety precaution. If a person is unable to provide what is deemed a good cause for needing a firearm, they should not be armed in public. This does not go against the right to own a gun. In the confinements of one’s home, the law stays the same. However, in public there should be tighter restrictions. To not feel safe in public without being personally armed is an extreme circumstance, one that hopefully will never apply to the masses. The requirement of a good cause does not alleviate the second amendment: “The right of people to keep and bear arms.” It is simply a measure meant to ensure the general public remains safe.

Keagan Ostop, FCRH ’25, is a journalism major from West Hartford, Connecticut.