In the United States, the year 2022 witnessed 646 mass shootings, the second-highest number of mass shootings since the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) began tracking them in 2013, reflecting an alarming trend of increasing gun violence across the country.
This surge in violence has spurred growing support for stricter gun laws. However, enacting gun law restrictions in the US poses significant challenges due to the presence of the Second Amendment in the US Constitution.
The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Similar to other constitutional amendments in the United States, the Second Amendment is subject to judicial interpretation.
Furthermore, most gun laws in the United States are made by states due to the principles of federalism, allowing them to tailor regulations based on local needs and preferences while also providing an additional layer of regulation alongside federal laws.
Due to that, the strictness of gun laws in the United States varies across states, with California and New Jersey being recognised for having some of the strictest regulations, while Alabama and Missouri are among the states known for having more lenient gun laws.
The US Supreme Court on Gun Laws
In June 2022, the US Supreme Court rendered a ruling affirming the right of Americans to carry firearms in public for self-defence, expanding the interpretation of the Second Amendment.
The case centred around a New York law from the 2010 New York Penal Code that imposed a “proper cause” requirement for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed gun in public.
The Supreme Court STRIKES DOWN a New York gun-control law that required people to show "proper cause" to get a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home. The vote is 6-3. https://t.co/jA2Gl7lTiG
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 23, 2022
This landmark decision generated significant uncertainty and disputes regarding gun laws due to the alteration of the constitutional test used by lower courts.
The new test mandates that gun laws align with the “historical tradition of firearm regulation” to be deemed constitutional.
After the decision last June, US President Joe Biden expressed deep disappointment with the ruling, asserting that it contradicted both common sense and the Constitution, and he called on states to enact new laws in order to prioritise gun safety.
Measure 114: Oregon Passes Stricter Gun Laws
— Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, PhD (@LeahSchade) November 10, 2022
Measure 114 requires Oregon residents to obtain a permit to purchase a gun. Furthermore, the law bans large-capacity magazines over 10 rounds except for the police and military and individuals who are already in possession of high-capacity magazines. In addition, the measure creates a statewide firearms database.
Oregon Gun Law Upheld in Federal Court
In November 2022, the Oregon Firearms Federation and a county sheriff filed a federal lawsuit asserting that the measure infringed upon the right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
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At the beginning of June this year, the case was heard by United States District Court Judge Karin Immergut, and the justice came down with a ruling on July 14.
The court upheld the constitutionality of the Oregon law and applied the test laid out by the Supreme Court last June. Immergut justified the gun restrictions based on the nation’s historical practice of regulating dangerous firearm features to ensure public safety.
Great news from the federal court today!
— Ellen Rosenblum (@ORDOJ) July 14, 2023
In her ruling, Judge Immergut stated that large-capacity magazines are not commonly utilised for self-defence and therefore do not fall under the protection of the Second Amendment.
She further emphasised that the Second Amendment permits governments to take measures to ensure that only law-abiding and responsible individuals have the right to possess and carry firearms.
The outcome of the Oregon measure is drawing significant attention as one of the earliest instances of newly enacted gun restrictions since the Supreme Court ruling in June.
The decision is subject to potential appeal, possibly reaching the US Supreme Court.
US-Wide Implications of the Oregon Gun Law Ruling?
If the Oregon case gets further appealed, its repercussions could further strengthen the gun control conversation.
Ban assault weapons.
Require safe storage of firearms.
Require background checks for all gun sales.
Eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.
We can and must do these things now.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 17, 2023
In line with this sentiment, President Biden previously announced an Executive Order to enhance background checks and prevent firearms from reaching dangerous individuals.
The Order also seeks to strengthen “red flag” laws, hold the gun industry accountable, and accelerate law enforcement efforts against potential shooters.
Certainly, if the Oregon case continues to be appealed, its outcome could further shape the national discourse on gun control.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Gun. Featured Photo Credit: Alex Andrews.