The day before the Supreme Court turned the world upside down and overruled Roe last week, it it held that the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding people to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense and that New York’s Sullivan law, which makes that virtually impossible for anyone but VIPs, was therefore unconstitutional. Justice Thomas wrote the opinion for the Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Justice Breyer dissented in an opinion joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.
Justice Alito filed a separate concurring opinion to deconstruct the fog of hysteria emitted in the dissent. I recommend Justice Alito’s concurrence for its entertainment value, which is considerable. Below are a few paragraphs that give a sense of the rest (internal citations and footnotes omitted).
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In light of what we have actually held, it is hard to see what legitimate purpose can possibly be served by most of the dissent’s lengthy introductory section. Why, for example, does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years? Does the dissent think that laws like New York’s prevent or deter such atrocities? Will a person bent on carrying out a mass shooting be stopped if he knows that it is illegal to carry a handgun outside the home? And how does the dissent account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list took place in Buffalo? The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.
What is the relevance of statistics about the use of guns to commit suicide? Does the dissent think that a lot of people who possess guns in their homes will be stopped or deterred from shooting themselves if they cannot lawfully take them outside?
The dissent cites statistics about the use of guns in domestic disputes, but it does not explain why these statistics are relevant to the question presented in this case. How many of the cases involving the use of a gun in a domestic dispute occur outside the home, and how
many are prevented by laws like New York’s?
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The dissent cites the large number of guns in private hands—nearly 400 million—but it does not explain what this statistic has to do with the question whether a person who already has the right to keep a gun in the home for self-defense is likely to be deterred from acquiring a gun by the knowledge that the gun cannot be carried outside the home. And while the dissent seemingly thinks that the ubiquity of guns and our country’s high level of gun violence provide reasons for sustaining the New York law, the dissent appears not to understand that it is these very facts that cause law-abiding citizens to feel the need to carry a gun for self-defense.