Washington, D.C.— The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a Second Amendment challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period on gun sales, continuing a nearly decade-long pattern of refusing to wade into the contentious debate on gun control. The court’s refusal to hear the case leaves the waiting period in California and other jurisdictions in place unfettered. Justice Clarence Thomas issued a dissent over the Court’s refusal to hear the case.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition from plaintiffs Jeff Silvester and Brandon Combs to hear the case. Second Amendment proponents argued that California’s 10-day waiting period, especially for individuals who have already passed a background check and legally own firearms, amounted to a violation of the right to keep and bear arms.
The last major precedent-setting firearms rulings came in 2008 and 2010, when ordinances in Washington, D.C. and Chicago that prohibited the private possession of handguns as violations of 2nd Amendment were struck down, and ruled that Americans have a right to have guns at home for self-defense.
Justice Thomas said the court’s record of failing to intervene in gun cases amounted to treating the Second Amendment as a “disfavored” constitutional right, noting that his fellow justices regularly hear cases involving unreasonable search and seizure, abortion and free speech rights, but haven’t reviewed an important gun rights case in eight-plus years.
In his dissent, Thomas wrote that the reversal by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is “symptomatic of the lower courts’ general failure to afford the Second Amendment the respect due an enumerated constitutional right.”
“If a lower court treated another right so cavalierly,” Thomas wrote, “I have little doubt that this Court would intervene. But as evidenced by our continued inaction in this area, the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this Court.”
“The Court would take these cases because abortion, speech, and the Fourth Amendment are three of its favored rights,” Thomas wrote. “The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan. And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message.”
The Washington Examiner reported that a California district court initially ruled in favor of Silvester and Combs, two lawful California gun owners who, along with two nonprofits, challenged the law. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling, which effectively kept the waiting period in place. In upholding the restrictions, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said “the 2nd Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”
“In the Ninth Circuit, it seems, rights that have no basis in the Constitution receive greater protection than the Second Amendment, which is enumerated in our text,” Thomas surmised.