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Francis Wilkinson

Supreme Court Makes the NRA Miserable Again

The NRA is winning the gun-rights battle in legislatures, but the court has reasonable reservations.
So, can you justify your  need? Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
So, can you justify your  need? Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Presented with an opportunity to expand gun rights, the U.S. Supreme Court took a powder today. It refused to hear a challenge to gun regulation in New Jersey, repeating a pattern of declining every such opportunity since it decided major gun-rights cases in 2008 and 2010.

It wasn't supposed to go this way -- not in the world according to gun-rights advocates. The New Jersey case arose from a decision by an appeals court panel, which had upheld the state's ban on permits for carrying handguns without authorities discerning a "justifiable need." The state defines that as an "urgent necessity for self-protection." In other words, you can't carry a gun in public just because you happen to like carrying a gun in public, and you can't carry a gun because you're generally anxious and afraid. You need a specific reason.