Lawyers, Guns, & Money: SCOTUS Expands Gun Rights as Senate Passes Gun Bill

The Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a gun in public as the Senate passed a bipartisan gun bill.


The Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a gun in public as the Senate passed a bipartisan deal on guns, mental health, and school safety.

  • The decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen struck down a New York state law limiting individuals’ rights to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home. 
  • Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “We know of no other constitutional rights that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.” 
  • The ruling marks the first time the Court acknowledged individuals have a Second Amendment right to carry a gun in public. 
  • New York Democrats condemned the Court’s decision. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called the ruling “outrageous”, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) said it “will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.” 
  • Later Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 65-33 to pass the Safer Communities Act, a bipartisan deal to address background checks, mental health, and school safety in response to the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York. 
  • Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) crafted a deal backed by all Senate Democrats and fifteen Senate Republicans. 
  • The legislation would strengthen background checks on young purchasers, restrict gun access for individuals convicted of domestic violence, incentivize state laws creating extreme risk protection orders (or “red flag” laws), and local fund school safety and mental health programs. 
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House of Representatives would take up the legislation on Friday.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Politico profiled the lead Democratic negotiators on the gun deal, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). The two Senators, one moderate and one progressive, do not hold leadership positions yet were able to work with Senate Republicans to forge a compromise. 
  • CNN called the Supreme Court’s decision “the widest expansion of gun rights in a decade” that “changes the framework that lower courts will use going forward as they analyze other gun restrictions.” Six states have similar laws to the New York one the Court struck down: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. 
  • Slate bashed the Court’s ruling as “a nightmare for gun control” and predicted it would “unleash a tidal wave of lower court rulings invalidating laws designed to protect Americans from the carnage of gun violence.”



  • Fox News covered the split within the Republican Party on the Senate’s gun control bill. The 15 Republicans who voted for the bill included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), moderates like Susan Collins (R-ME), and conservatives like Thom Tillis (R-NC). 
  • National Review argued the Supreme Court struck “a historic blow for Second Amendment rights” and “potentially the most important Second Amendment ruling in American history.” The Court made it clear gun rights deserve the same protections as the rest of the Bill of Rights. 
  • The Wall Street Journal dug into where exactly the $15 billion authorized by the bill will be spent. The money would help states enforce red-flag laws, expand background checks, and more than half will fund mental-health programs and school safety measures.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022