Supreme Court Undermines Landmark 2A Decision By Refusing to Hear Case


The Supreme Court of the United States. (Photo:Wiki)

The U.S. Supreme Court had a chance to restore the Second Amendment rights of San Francisco residents this week, but it refused to do so by passing on a case that challenged the city’s mandate requiring one to store any handgun that is not being carried in a “locked container or disabled with a trigger lock.”

For unspecified reasons, SCOTUS did not want to hear the case of Jackson v. City of San Francisco, which was last reviewed by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in March. Like the district court who first ruled on the case, the 9th Circuit found that the mandatory gun lock was constitutional.

How those courts — the district court and the 9th Circuit — came to that conclusion is a vexing mystery to anyone who has read SCOTUS’s landmark ruling in the 2008 Heller case, which overturned D.C. ban on handguns and its requirement, similar to San Francisco’s, that firearms in the home must be “unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.”

In the Heller decision, which was delivered by justice Anton Scalia, the high court correctly stated that the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep a “lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”

Obviously, that raises the question of how can a firearm be immediately available if it is disabled with a trigger lock or stored in a container as the city of San Francisco requires?

To put it bluntly, the 9th Circuit and the district court got it wrong — way wrong. And it opened up the door for SCOTUS to right this wrong. Unfortunately, the majority of the justices did not want to do their job and protect the fundamental rights of the people, so SCOTUS passed up Jackson v. City of San Francisco.

Knowing that the high court was skirting its duty, two justices expressed outrage over the decision not to hear the case: Scalia and justice Clarence Thomas.

“San Francisco’s law allows residents to use their handguns for the purpose of self-defense, but it prohibits them from keeping those handguns operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense when not carried on the person,” justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a six page dissent, which was joined by Scalia.

“In an emergency situation, the delay imposed by this law could prevent San Francisco residents from using their handguns for the lawful purpose of self-defense,” Thomas stated. “And that delay could easily be the difference between life and death.”

Thomas continued, “The law thus burdens their right to self-defense at the times they are most vulnerable – when they are sleeping, bathing, changing clothes, or otherwise indisposed. There is consequently no question that San Francisco’s law burdens the core of the Second Amendment right.”

Read that last line again, “There is consequently no question that San Francisco’s law burdens the core of the Second Amendment right.”

Indeed. Yet, the mandatory gun lock requirement remains the law of the land in SanFran. Violators face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Since the 9th Circuit covers all of Hawaii, Alaska, California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington state, cities and municipalities in those states seeking to pass storage requirements or those who already have them on the books are now protected and embolden to continue to undermine Heller.

We can only hope that the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s inaction don’t snowball.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 37 comments… add one }
  • mtman2 November 22, 2016, 8:40 am

    TRUTH- is scotus should by law have to defend a prior decision if a lower court subverts it- as in this case. The 9th “decision” or opinion cannot stand in a case-law prescedence ruling by a higher court esp concerning Constitutional Law.
    They must be forced to uphold settled law ~!

  • Repub September 22, 2016, 11:36 am

    On television, I just saw a liar Hillary campaign add. The add showed about 6 Republicans (pseudo Republicans) that claim they support liar Hillary and will not vote for Trump. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was one of them. She must be a damn idiot. These so called Republicans actually believe that corrupt Hillary would be a better president than Trump. The “judgement” of these people is incomprehensible and totally out of touch with what is best for America. ROTTEN TO THE CORE Hillary would absolutely be the most devisive and the worst president the United States has ever seen, even worse than the corrupt liar and “executive action” Obama. It is beyond belief that these politicians that are supposed to have good judgement actually have terrible judgement and do not deserve to represent the Republicans or anyone else in the United States. These people should be VOTED OUT as soon as possible.They should be replaced with true Republicans that have the good sense to do what is best for the United States. Hillary as president would positively be a terrible ordeal for all Americans.

    The biased media supports Hillary and idiot Democrats. The network news media and Hillary, Billy, and Chelsea supporters, such as Obama, Tim Kaine is Hillary’s selection for Vice President, Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer are rotten gun control politicians from California, Gov. Brown of California, Gov. Brown of Oregon, Gov. Inslee of Washington, Bloomberg is a major gun control idiot who contrives with Katy Couric to make the pro gun people seem to be confused and stupid on network news, Soros is a major gun control idiot who is a friend of Hillary and owns Progressive insurance, Sen. Schumer of New York wants to stack the U.S. Supreme Court with gun control Democrat justices, Katie Couric who contrived with Bloomberg to make the network news represent pro gun people as confused and stupid, Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura Healey who dictated that certain common guns are illegal, Sen. Harry Reid of Arizona who, as Majority Leader of the Senate, refused to hear Republican legislation, Dan Gross who is leader of the gun control Brady Bunch, Rupert Murdoch who is a biased gun control Democrat of FOX NEWS, Republican Susan Collins of Maine says she will not vote for Trump, all have something in common and it is the fact that all are ROTTEN TO THE CORE!!!!

    Remember Hillary’s comment about the four Americans killed in Benghazi –

    • Firestorm June 30, 2017, 11:23 am

      Interesting Rant Mr. Repub

      Not sure what on earth your mouthy efforts contribute to a discussion of SCOTUS and their refusal to do their job and hear a landmark case. Seems you should instead find a political forum to rant in. This case will not be heard now….Perhaps to our benefit. Would it not be better to take this on with a Strong 2A set of justices? They do have limited lifespans and if calculations and mortality rates have any sway we have 2-3 justices likely to “ascend” ……or “descend” to their eternity.

  • Rikk April 30, 2016, 4:17 am

    The 4th Amendment regarding illegal search & seizure goes on to say WE have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes. The government does not belong in our homes!

  • Wolfpack-bravo June 21, 2015, 12:57 am

    Gun locks, unloaded firearms, disabled firearms?
    Who does the powers that be think they are to tell me how to best protect my family?
    I will keep whatever loaded wherever I want!
    I would rather be tried by twelve than carried by six anyway.
    Wolfpack-bravo out.

  • Chris June 16, 2015, 11:56 pm

    I understand the law, and the Supreme Court deciding not to hear the case. As San Francisco is the home of the Liberal left, it’s not surprising this law is on the book. How is this law enforced? Are the PD going to violate the 4th Amendment in order to check handguns and locks? If it comes to my or my families lives, I’m keeping my gun, loaded, right next to me, and killing that intruder. Put me in jail for 6 months for not having a trigger lock. I’m willing to go in front of a jury of my peers and tell them I protected my family, so what? I’m going to jail?

    • Rikk April 30, 2016, 4:21 am

      If you run a lock through an unloaded gun, all you have is an ineffective, expensive club.

  • Joe McHugh June 16, 2015, 5:27 pm

    Is there something in the drinking water in Washington, D. C., that causes both amnesia and obtuseness? The 9th Circuit Court in California ruled exactly opposite the decision in the District of Columbia et al. v. Heller case, decided June 26, 2008. Three Supreme Court justices seem to have forgotten that they ruled against the exact same abuse of the Second Amendment seven years ago. Perhaps there is a mold on the Supreme Court walls that is causing short term memory loss?

    Justices Kennedy, Alito and Chief Justice Roberts have stabbed the residents of California in the back by declining to review the decision of the 9th Circuit Court. Basically the 9th Circuit Court told the Supreme Court of the United States to roll up the
    2008 decision and insert it in their respective ears.

    OK, here’s one reason that Justices Alito and Kennedy voted against reviewing the decision of the 9th Circuit Court. Chief Justice Roberts may have informed those two justices that he would rule with the 9th Circuit Court judges, (against the individual right to keep firearms in the ready state in the home). Justices Alito and Kennedy might have decided to prevent such a decision by Roberts in order to save what was left of the contravened 2008 decision.

    Question: Why would Chief Justice Roberts behave in such an inexplicable way? Another supposition: Roberts is being blackmailed by obama. This would also account for Roberts doing an about face on the Obama Care decision that shocked the judicial community and supported a law that was unconstitutional on its face. The blackmail? Roberts and his wife wanted to adopt two orphan children in Ireland. They were thwarted by strict Irish laws against adoption of Irish children by foreign nationals. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Roberts then adopted two children in Brazil that were dead ringers for the two children in Ireland. What were the odds that they would share the same fair skin and light hair color too?

    Back to the obama finding that found that the Federal Government can, indeed, force you to purchase a commercial service, (health care insurance). What next, the government will force us to buy broccoli because it is healthy for us?

    When I was a lad in school, I remember the teacher explaining how the three branches of the Federal Government provided checks and balances against any unconstitutional behavior of one of the other branches. That was in the good old days before an Indonesian national, pretending to be an American, would send a minion to blackmail a member of the court.

    Outrageous posit? OK, let’s hear another explanation as to why three Supreme Curt Justices have exposed themselves to be buffoons in public.

  • Mr. Sparkles June 16, 2015, 12:44 pm

    While this failure by SCOTUS to engage this blatant attack on the one amendment of our Constitution that enforces all others is disheartening, I gain some solace or hope from the fact that this law was not combined with it’s own amendment that implicitly weakens the fourth amendment by allowing the right to invade homes to ascertain that this law is being enforced. How would someone know that your guns are NOT in the required configuration if they cannot and/or have no reason to enter to enter your home (read as castle)? Keep your eyes and ears open for an attempt to close that loophole.

  • 5WarVeteran June 16, 2015, 9:27 am

    Any person who carries the concept that criminals will abide by laws is beyond help.
    Uh dumb a$$ ever wonder how they came to be criminals? BY NOT GIVING A CRAP ABOUT LAWS!! DUH!!!
    How come of all the senses “common” is the least used?

  • Bill June 15, 2015, 10:01 pm

    I live in f,,,,, CA. It has always been run by the Left.
    I have always had and carried guns.
    1: One Under a night stand 2: One in a Clock at the front door and 3: I always just seem to be working on one out in my shop..
    It is just nuts to be worried about this issue. Tell me how many of you would follow the Law if it was passed in your state.
    What I do inside my home is my business!
    The solution is simple–carry at home at all times!
    San Fran is just making criminals out of law abiding citizens. NO IT Will be State Wide In A Few Months…
    Will It Make A Difference?? Not To Me or Any Of The People That I know!!
    Look just have a gun lock laying there !!! That Is What I have Done For Years.. It Looks good, no matter what the Law States.
    Once my mom Kicks to bucket I am Off To Sunny AZ,, Ca is just to left for me and It always will be..

  • arnold June 15, 2015, 12:46 pm

    I have been warning all we better be very thoughtful in how we exercise our rights and to give thought to all new legislation. The crazy open carry movement does nothing but make gun owners alarming to the non gun folks and makes us look like child like cowboy wanna be’s. Concealed carry is a far better right and one that gives no public alarm. The Supreme Court victory was by ONE VOTE!! We are far from secure in a 2nd Amendment right as we have in now defined. We gun owner better stop following every move to expand and work prove we are reasonable and responsible citizens, equally concerned for the public good. Finally remember the Supreme Court said our rights are subject to “reasonable regulation”. What does that mean? You just saw it in this ruling by allowing the lower court ruling to stand. Wake up brothers and quit following the NRA drumbeat to every new battle for removal of any regulation of guns. Our rights hold by a single vote and if public opinion against us gets strong enough, it will vanish. The 2nd Amendment means whatever the Supreme Court decides it means. Wise use of our rights are necessary to keep them. It is that simple.

  • BRASS June 15, 2015, 12:16 pm

    I would not require citizens to keep firearms maintained in homes with adults only residing in them to keep them locked up and unloaded. That said, in todays world, if you can afford a firearm, the ammo and all the other expenses required, right or wrong, you should be able to afford a locking device that allows fast access.
    As for unloaded, with a magazine loaded firearm, that can be overcome with practice and planning but not so with a revolver, shotgun or rifle with non-removable magazines.
    As a practical matter, what I do inside my home is my business and I’m not letting the twits and nits in San Francisco or anywhere else endanger my life to suit their ignorance and big government control agenda. While I would always strive to be in compliance with the law as a matter of both citizenship and self protection from prosecution, I would not sell my life for bad law.
    Neither for that matter would I live in a state, county or city that placed such anti-constitutional restrictions on my natural rights. The best decision to make if one really cherishes and wants to defend and practice their constitutional rights is to reside in a state where such Marxist rule does not or is unlikely to ever exist. That is why gun friendly states are growing, why state and local governments are passing pro-gun and pro-Second Amendment laws to protect both their citizens and the sovereignty of the state.
    If you won’t take the actions necessary to protect yourself, then your rights likely aren’t that important to you.

    • Retired Navy Spook June 15, 2015, 1:52 pm

      ” you should be able to afford a locking device that allows fast access.”

      Absolutely. Lots of good, single gun, table-top storage devices with fast, biometric access at a fraction of the cost of a decent handgun. If I still had children at home, I wouldn’t think twice about using one.

  • Bradley June 15, 2015, 11:53 am

    Look just have a gun lock laying there and if you do shoot someone tell the cops that you had to take it off and load your gun and put it all back together again then call them then the guy got shot by the same macic bullet that killed JFK they have never been able to prove that one wrong. In other words lie and don’t worry about it they have been screwing up for years

  • Tim June 15, 2015, 11:06 am

    San Fran is just making criminals out of law abiding citizens. I promise that if I lived there, my guns would be just like they are here in AK. In every room, locked and loaded. Now granted, mine are more for protection from the 4 legged hunger type but it works great for the 2 legged criminal type too!

  • Capn Stefano June 15, 2015, 10:12 am

    Um, no this does not affect Washington State or any other that has a preemption law barring locales from making gun law

    However, we do have 7 traitors residing in black robes and we lack the guts to do anything about it, and countless other abuses as well

    • Tim June 15, 2015, 11:08 am

      Actually, only five in regards to this ruling. Two stood up and tried to do the right thing.

  • DanF. June 15, 2015, 9:20 am

    San Francisco has always been strange–no, downright weird. The same city/county that gave us the first Committee of Vigilance to drive out or kill “bad elements,” also gave us the first openly gay supervisor. Harvey Milk was shot to death by Dan White who claimed insanity because he ate too many Twinkies–and the jury bought it. (A similar type of jury awarded substantial money in a civil case to a woman who was involved in a minor cable car accident. She claimed that her injuries caused her to become a nymphomaniac.)
    So, seven of the Supremes probably felt that this was just San Francisco being San Francisco and we have Heller and McDonald for the rest of the country. Besides a law-abiding San Fransican who has a gun at home (all 12 of them) needn’t lock it up if it is being carried. The solution is simple–carry at home at all times. The crooks who have guns illegally probably had a bad upbringing, can’t read or understand the law, and therefore shouldn’t be punished.
    This was truly a lousy decision by the seven Supremes who refused to hear this case.

  • Mike June 15, 2015, 8:27 am

    Anyone who infers that any criminal will abide by ANY laws are trully foolish. The private citizen must be allowed to defend themselves. Anyone who thinks the police can or will protect the private citizen’s lives, property and rights are simply delusional. We Americans MUST stand up and protect ourselves and THAT is what the second amendment to our Constitution is all about!

    The leftists need to leave America if they cannot follow the Constitution. I think Obama and his cronies should leave with them!

    • Joe McHugh June 16, 2015, 6:14 pm

      Mike, you are being more astute than you know. The courts have decided in severals cases that the police are not obligated to protect the public. Yup, several cases were brought to the courts to seek remedy for injuries and deaths of family members when the local police failed to show up in a timely manner. The courts consistently determined that the police were not bound to come to the aid of innocent victims in any time frame!

      The logic was simple and even understandable under certain circumstances. Remember Hurricane Katrina? The policemen could not get to the many calls for help against marauders. Worse, many policemen decided to go home to protect their own families. Yeah, but how many times does a hurricane destroy the infrastructure of a large city? Once is enough, any local emergency like snow storms, tornadoes, etc, etc can delay police responses by hours, even days.

      Where does that leave the law-abiding people when they hear a bump in the night? It leaves them where they have always been, ……on their own. The Second Amendment was inscribed in the Bill of Rights to give the people a means to resist those that would abuse their rights, including their own government.

      Psst! When you hear a “trusted” leader call for gun registration, (background checks), laugh right in his or her face! Hey, want a background check law that the National Rifle Association, (NRA), would enthusiastically back up? All the legislators would need to do is write the bill as being a background check. You know, a check that does not require the recording of the serial number of the firearm being sold.

      Question: Why does the government want to know about the serial number of a gun that a person is buying when they have already determined that person to be a competent, law-abiding citizen? While you are thinking that over, consider what every tyrant in recent history has done when he gained power. Yup, he confiscated all of the privately owned firearms. Hint, you can’t confiscate firearms if you don’t know who owns them. Oops, I gave away the answer to the question in this paragraph.

      My neighbor, Eliot, is a rabid anti-gun liberal. He goes on and on describing the horrors of individual gun ownership. We get along quite well and he has no clue about certain items that I may, or may not have secreted in places that even a metal detector wouldn’t find. That’s the whole point about responsible citizenship regarding firearms, one can have recourse when the government might become authoritarian in nature.

      By the way, for the liberal readers, I don’t own a firearm. You believe me don’t you?

      • Chale January 30, 2018, 9:45 pm

        “for when the government might become authoritarian “? Where the hell have you been? Our tyrannical gov. has been stomping our supposed rights for decades. What will it take to get spineless Americans off their ass?

  • Abner T June 15, 2015, 8:17 am

    As one living (thus far) in California, it is disheartening to see this constant assault on individual rights by the powers that be on the left bank. The 9th circuit clowns have always been a disservice to society… I’ve noted ONE decision in the past twenty or so years which followed both common sense and the Constitution. They all deserve arm-and-hammer armbands.

    But for the SCOTUS to not hear this case, and thus leave hanging the meaning of one of the cornerstones of Constitutional rights, defies logic. It opens the door for more fruitloop legislation, like that which is currently found in the ‘cereal state’, to be introduced in ANY state. All it will accomplish is a feeding frenzy by the lawyer mill, provide another stepping stone to stomp on the basic rights of individual citizens, and continue to steer this country down the communist/national socialist pathway.

    What a travesty… when you think of all the good Americans who have shed blood to protect the meaning of this document for future generations, being usurped by the government entities sworn by oath to protect it…

  • Gertieguy June 15, 2015, 7:50 am

    BUT, it will now make it easier for LE to bag the bad guys…I think most gangs, thugs, etc will not have their guns in locked boxes or trigger off to jail they go. So I guess we’ll also be stomping on the 2A rights of criminals.

    • 5WarVeteran June 16, 2015, 9:24 am

      Meanwhile, all the honest law abiding citizens who are attacked by non-law abiding criminals will have to fumble for keys and safe locks in order to defend themselves. Might as well be in “guns free zones”. Much good as they do …..

    • Mike June 22, 2015, 9:09 pm

      Most thugs, gangs, etc. don’t have 2A rights, as most are already felons. Imposing the restriction of locking their firearms has no bearing since they are already forbidden from even possessing a firearm. This decision by SCOTUS is a real travesty. Some may have already written off Cali, but we cannot afford to write off the 9th Circuit, or almost 20% of our country. The 2A supporters in that area will have to do, what they have to do to keep their families and themselves safe. Here’s something to think about; the only way to enforce these bogus laws will be for the states to trample the fourth amendment.

  • Richard Patterson June 15, 2015, 7:25 am

    It doesn’t matter if the left gets in the way or changes the laws. We The People will continue to live by our constitution no matter what. Long live The United States of America!

  • Retired Navy Spook June 15, 2015, 7:20 am

    One the plus side, we ARE talking about San Francisco here, so who cares? The tide in the last decade to weaken and roll back state gun laws that really do “infringe” on the rights of innocent, law-abiding gun owners to protect themselves and their families has been decidedly in our favor. ALL states now have concealed carry laws, and every year more and more states are recognizing other states CC laws. That doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant, but we ARE winning this fight.

    • Alan June 15, 2015, 9:01 am

      Spook, we MUST care because it DID involve SCOTUS. Will is correct, it undermines the POSITIVE rulings of SCOTUS, and emboldens lower courts.
      Yes, many States have turned the tide, so to speak. You are dead bang on that. But that tide can turn again, especially if SCOTUS constantly undermines it’s own powers, or obfuscates the original meaning of our Constitution.

      • Retired Navy Spook June 15, 2015, 11:38 am

        Sorry, Alan. Where’s that sarcasm font when you need it? Of course we should care, even for residents of San Francisco.

      • Dan February 4, 2017, 2:26 am

        The problem with the 9th circuit, which should have been broken up many years ago, is that it covers Alaska, Calif., Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and a few I missed. That court has way too much power over a lot of territory and their folks. So when we assume it’s only San Fran, we are short selling it’s actual potential for damage to the “shall not be infringed” as well as our 4th ammendment rights. Even if you are not a criminal, and you have a CCW license/permit, an officer can now legally put you up against the car, search you, disarm you, and possibly at his discression, search your car. The basis for the new court decision was the firearm is a dangerous weapon, making you a dangerous person in possesion, therefor treated as a hostile threat. Sadly it is left entirely up to the officer and his perception or just a bad attitude. I have been there myself. I did not tell the officer I was a concealed permit holder, which in Alaska is not necessary unless you are carrying concealed, and he was all over me for violating his safety and the law. He was wrong, but at that point he was in control and reminded me he had his gun all of the time….Every little chink or intrusion into our rights however slight will hurt us in the long run. Deeper background checks using social security records, pharmacy records, and storing purchase info in another country to skirt the law against government registration and records rentension. I don’t think this practice has ever stopped. I believe the next step we don’t hear about will be denying services for gun owners beginning with “so called” black rifles, certain types of handguns, then rifles “they” determine to be non-sporting. You know, reasonable restrictions for the children, etc., etc., etc. ….

    • Pissed_pat June 15, 2015, 5:00 pm

      It’s not “San Francisco.” It’s all nine states of the 9th Circuit. As the article makes clear….

      • jay June 15, 2015, 6:09 pm

        Only those cities that pass an ordinance similar to San Francisco’s.

    • 5 June 16, 2015, 9:19 am

      Thank you for your service brother.

  • DRAINO June 14, 2015, 7:13 am

    I agree with Will…..and Thomas/Scalia. This decision is disturbing to say the least. I pray we can get some decent conservative judges in before its too late. You can bet that won’t happen with the current administration on the throne….er,uh…in charge. It really wouldn’t surprise me to find out there is some duress being put on these judges. If that is true, I doubt we will ever find out, however. But then again, some of these Kool-Aid drinker judges are just as psycho-liberal as the current executive branch. Our country needs to wake-up! Engage, America!

  • Will Drider June 13, 2015, 12:37 pm

    The SCOTUS could have opened the case and Ruled without hearing any additional information. SCOTUS already set a president in case law with their prior decision. They should have slammed the lower courts for not following it. The spineless majority vote sends a message that SCOTUS decissions are not set in stone and can be minimized and disregarded. They have put our few 2A victories in jeopardy by pulling te rug out from under their own feet. This is a disgusting travesty of justice that is truely a life, death or jail issue to the common man or woman. The majority voters should resign when we get a better president in office who will appoint Justices who will follow the law and represent We The People.

    • nathan fryer July 1, 2015, 2:29 pm

      AMEN Will…That’s what they should’ve done in the first place…If a Justice can’t do his job according to the rules of the law that protect the very citizens that voted him or her into office…YOUR FIRED !!

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