FPF Files Brief Urging the Supreme Court to Uphold Second Amendment Right to Publicly Carry Arms

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 13, 2021) — Today, Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) announced the filing of an important, merits-stage United States Supreme Court brief in the case of NYSRPA v. Bruen (previously captioned NYSRPA v. Corlett), a case challenging New York’s “proper cause” scheme for the issuance of licenses to carry arms in public. The brief can be found at FPCLegal.org.

FPF’s brief—joined by professors of Second Amendment law including Randy Barnett (Georgetown), Royce Barondes (Missouri), Nicholas Johnson (Fordham), Donald Kilmer (Lincoln), Michael O’Shea (Oklahoma City), Joseph Olson (Mitchell Hamline), Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee), and Eugene Volokh, as well as Weld County, Colorado, Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, and the Independence Institute—emphasizes that the Second Amendment’s text, which protects the right of the people to “bear arms,” means precisely what it says, and protects the right of ordinary Americans to carry arms for lawful purposes. 

The brief notes that “[t]he Second Amendment places the right to bear arms on equal footing with the right to keep arms.” It then uses history and tradition, starting in fourteenth-century England and ending in nineteenth-century America, to confirm this original meaning. Incorporated into the brief are numerous examples from the Colonies, England, and early America where the right to carry arms was mentioned and protected, such as during the Boston Massacre trial, at the Second Amendment’s introduction to Congress, and when “King James II was overthrown in 1688 in part because he was pushing gun control to extremes.”

“In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court considered the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by history and tradition, to hold that the right to keep arms protects the individual right of all Americans to possess and use arms for self-defense. Our brief applies the same analysis to the right to bear arms, and proves that the Constitution protects the right of all Americans to carry arms on their person in public,” said FPF’s Director of Constitutional Studies and brief coauthor, Joseph Greenlee. “We are excited to provide the Court with this important history and in-depth analysis, which should help guide the Court to a decision consistent with the Constitution and secure the ability of all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense in public.”   

“The overwhelming majority of states have recognized the right of peaceful citizens to protect themselves and others in public,” noted brief coauthor and law professor, George Mocsary. “New York, however, has treated the right as a privilege for the connected few. It treats ordinary Americans who are willing to share the responsibility for their own safety as criminals. This case is an opportunity for the Court to ensure that all citizens receive the full protections promised by the Second Amendment, as we explain in our brief.”

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