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We’re Heading for a National Showdown on Guns

“Over whether or not this is going to be society with guns everywhere.”
June 27, 2022
We’re Heading for a National Showdown on Guns
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: Students gather at a gun control rally at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol March 14, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Students from area high schools participated in the event to mark the one-year anniversary of a nationwide gun-violence walkout protest that was prompted by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

[On the June 24, 2022, episode of The Bulwark’s “Beg to Differ” podcast, David Frum was asked about the recent Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down a century-old New York law limiting concealed carry.]

Mona Charen: [In a concurrence, Justice Samuel Alito wrote] that this ruling does not affect “who may lawfully possess a firearm or the requirements that must be met to buy a gun. Nor does it decide anything about the kind of weapons that people may possess.”

David Frum: What the Supreme Court did in this recent case with the New York carry law is the same thing it did in Heller: It took a big step in principle and a tiny step in practice.

New York isn’t going to have to change its carry laws very much, but what the Supreme Court has done in these two decisions is to take a constitutional right that was understood for most of the first 200 years of the country to be a right of states to organize militias independent of the national armed forces. That’s how—from writing the Bill of Rights until the twenty-first century—the Second Amendment was generally understood: as a right of the states to have a militia.

And the Supreme Court individualized that and has now . . . widened that individual right to be a right not only of gun ownership, but of gun carriage in public places. So that is a dramatic thing, even though they have not taken such a big step in actual concrete measures. So, this is now a national issue—and we’re heading for a national showdown over whether or not this is going to be society with guns everywhere, with all the consequences, or whether there is going to be now some kind of national framework since the Supreme Court is taking away the ability of states to have their own state framework.

David Frum

David Frum, a staff writer at the Atlantic, is the author of ten books, most recently Trumpocracy (2018) and Trumpocalypse (2020). Twitter: @davidfrum.