The court’s refusal to take this law into consideration raises serious questions about the Court’s commitment to protecting the Second Amendment, especially considering the similarities between this case and the District of Columbia v. Heller decision in 2008.
The Heller ruling is best known for striking down Washington DC’s handgun ban, but it also ruled unconstitutional the city’s strict gun storage requirements, stating that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep “lawful firearms in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense.”
The San Francisco case – Jackson v. San Francisco - was virtually identical to the gun storage aspects of the Heller case. When Jackson was submitted to the court in January, it was widely expected the court would take up the case and issue a similar ruling.
Instead, the court has gone to great lengths to avoid addressing the case at all. Jackson was submitted for conference five times before finally being accepted for review yesterday – and then promptly rejected.
The court did not offer an explanation as to why it refused to hear the San Francisco case, but two justices spoke out in opposition to the court’s refusal to get involved. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, stating:
Less than a decade ago, we explained that an ordinance requiring firearms in the home to be kept inoperable, without an exception for self-defense, conflicted with the Second Amendment because it “ma[de] it impossible for citizens to use [their firearms] for the core lawful purpose of self- defense.” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 630 (2008). Despite the clarity with which we described the Second Amendment’s core protection for the right of self-defense, lower courts, including the ones here, have failed to protect it. Because Second Amendment rights are no less protected by our Constitution than other rights enumerated in that document, I would have granted this petition.Thomas added:
The Court’s refusal to review this decision is difficult to account for in light of its repeated willingness to review split-less decisions involving alleged violations of other constitutional rights.Jackson v. San Francisco has been moving through the federal court system since 2009. Last year, an appeals court ruled against the plaintiffs, saying San Francisco’s gun storage laws are “not a substantial burden on the Second Amendment.”