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Affluent Investor | June 23, 2017

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Gun Trigger Locks Mandates, Supreme Court No Help


In 2008, the Supreme Court issued its momentous decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. Until then, the meaning of the Second Amendment had been cloudy for many years. Gun control partisans argued that all it did was to protect a “collective” right to keep and bear arms (militia, the police) but not any right for individuals to do so.

Thus, state and local gun controls laws, no matter how strict, were constitutional.

Advocates for the right of individual ownership argued that the Second Amendment didn’t make sense under that reading. Sheldon Richman, for one, made that case here.

In Heller, a resident of the District of Columbia (Dick Heller) contended that the District’s law that prevented him from having a handgun in his home for self-protection violated his rights under the Second Amendment. (Strangely enough, Heller was paid to provide armed security at the Thurgood Marshall Center during the day, but was prevented from having a weapon at the ready in case he needed to defend himself at night.)

Did he have any rights, though? In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that he did.

The Court held that the District’s prohibition against handguns and its law that any other gun must either be kept disassembled or with a trigger lock violated Heller’s constitutional rights to keep firearms for self-defense.

A key element in Heller was the dispute over trigger locks. Was it a reasonable regulation to mandate them?

Arguing the case for the District, former solicitor general Walter Dellinger maintained that he could remove a trigger lock within three seconds. But Chief Justice Roberts didn’t think that was relevant, pointing out that someone awakened in the middle of the night by frightening sounds probably wouldn’t be able to do it nearly so quickly – and seconds might make the difference between life and death.

All that is background to a recent case, Jackson v. San Francisco.

A San Francisco ordinance dating from 2007 requires that any handgun kept in a home “be stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock.” Six residents led by Espanola Jackson challenged the legality of that ordinance under Heller. Their complaint stated that the law means “law abiding individuals must render their handguns inoperable or inaccessible precisely when they are needed most….”

You might think that the San Francisco law would fare just the same as did the District of Columbia’s – but you’d be mistaken. The federal district court ruled in favor of the city, and on appeal, so did the Ninth Circuit.

Writing that court’s opinion, Judge Ikuta stated that although the law’s requirements certainly could make self-defense more difficult for an elderly woman like Ms. Jackson, (who testified: “I would have to turn on the light, find my glasses, find the key to the lockbox, insert the key in the lock and unlock the box under the stress of the emergency, and then get my gun before being in position to defend myself. That is not an easy task at my age”) that consideration was outweighed by the city’s interest “in preventing firearms from being stolen and in reducing the number of handgun-related suicides and deadly domestic violence incidents.”

Therefore, the law stood and if Ms. Jackson or anyone else were to be found out of compliance, the city could impose a punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Over and over, we have seen the courts whittle away at our constitutional rights with “balancing” arguments like Judge Ikuta’s — arguments that almost always come out in favor of the officials doing the whittling. Public officials who probably perceive little or no personal danger get to tell citizens who do perceive such danger how they must behave. There’s something wrong with that picture.

But surely the Supreme Court would step in since Jackson looks inconsistent with Heller.

No. It chose not to grant certiorari, which means that it lets the Ninth Circuit ruling stand. Apparently a majority on the Court is not willing to fight Second Amendment battles to preserve the rights it protected in Heller.

Justice Thomas filed a strong dissent (available here – scroll down to the bottom) from the refusal to grant cert, arguing that the conditions San Francisco imposes on gun owners undermine their Second Amendment rights. Thomas, joined by Justice Scalia, writes that the ordinance “burdens [residents’] right to self-defense at the times they are most vulnerable – when they are sleeping, bathing, changing clothes, or otherwise indisposed.” He finds the Ninth Circuit decision “in serious tension with Heller.”

It certainly appears to be.

Seven justices, however, were content to let San Francisco continue dictating the conditions under which citizens who have firearms for safety must keep them. That holding will undoubtedly embolden the anti-gun forces to impose further conditions on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

It simply isn’t possible to keep guns and other deadly weapons out of the hands of crazed and vicious individuals. The law should stop making it unnecessarily difficult for people who suddenly find that they must defend themselves to do so.


Originally posted on

  • antiliberalcryptonite

    Liberals will all decry the locks and chains on them when they are in the pits of hell. There will be no escape. It will be eternal torment. They will not believe until they are there and then the slap of reality will be VERY sobering.

    • hora

      That are real reality, first lie, a real reason are keep citizen under control, and bring all kid of criminal in and watch how citizen die,but why all liberals carry a weapon? we need silence all liberals forever and make felony be liberals.

  • ccryder

    I don’t live in the land of fruits & nuts but I have thought from day one that someday the law would make it illegal to disable the moronic built in trigger locks.
    I will never own one for that reason.

  • CaptTurbo

    This is what happens when political offices and the courts become populated with liberal garbage.

  • Chief47

    The Supreme Court has turned itself into the Supreme Joke.

  • bahndon

    If I was in the land of granola I would be in violation of the disabled gun law.

  • Tutu

    Defies common sense. Oh well, that left California a long time ago. That is why so many folks are leaving the state. No way would I live there.

  • nick

    i can not believe the number if ignorant o stupid people that exist. if a man with a knife or club is within 20-22 feet of you, you will be stabbed or hit before you can get a shot off, unless you have practiced quick drawing like in the old west.

  • jbowling07

    Being forced to have your firearm secured is nonsense. With that being said, I’m wondering how anyone would be able to tell if your firearm had a trigger lock on it. Scenario: bad guy walks in, BANG, trigger lock and key sitting near pistol on nightstand when the sirens arrive.

    • Centurion

      Excellent idea. But I would make sure the key is still in the trigger lock. It’s more believable.

    • 1pappap

      Good idea until they start sending SWAT teams in the middle of the night to check and see if your weapon is properly secured.

  • jbowling07

    New scenario: Bad guy breaks in your home… no time to get trigger lock off… throw glass of water in bad guy’s face. oops – I meant can of ‘delta smelt’

    • Rabelrouser

      Waste the “water”, go to jail.

  • myfordtruck

    Anything is believable in this country now and the only way to fix it is to clean out the government leaders and start over with term limits on all offices including the supreme court cut all elected peoples salary,s down no more thirty thousand a year max. with reg. medical coverage and only S.S. for retirement That way if they want be elected it will be because they want to serve the people

  • Charlie

    Guess We The People will have to have a family member or make enough money to have someone stand guard at night . Can’t have a gun at the ready , heck the gun might go on a killing spree all by itself !!!!

  • 1pappap

    I’ll say it again and I will keep saying it, “What don’t they understand about…SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

  • agbjr

    “A government that does not trust it’s law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.”

    James Madison.
    The Federalist

  • hangman57

    As long as Americans continue to vote for Liberals Communist Democrats , your rights will continue to be taken away from you . You are damn fools voting for Obama , and a bigger fool if you vote for Hillary .

  • jerry1944

    Laws are not made by feelings That would be pretty dumm to rule by how onew feels today when they might feel diffrent

    tomorrow But my weapons dont carry locks I dont plan to get shot looking to unlock mine There is a few in a safe under lock but they are protected by those that are unlocked And with the way the country is going since the gop put obambo as Pres we better keep them at the ready

  • David Gray

    Who will know if your gun is locked up or not? Keep the lock next to your gun incase you ever have to use it. “Laws are meant for the little people, not the elitist” Barack Obama

  • TheCogitator

    This is what is scary. Heller was a 5-4 decision. If one justice had voted differently, the decision would have gone the other way. Eventually the liberal/collectivist/socialists who want to be certain the the government can force its will on the people will get the chance to appoint a justice who will vote the other way. Then it is game over or the start of an internal war between those who believe in the personal right to self defense, and those who believe only the state can defend us. If the American people lose the right to arms, the light of liberty goes out on planet earth.

  • pete0097

    WASP spray. Accurate at 20 feet, won’t hurt your stuff and if the criminal get enough down his throat, DOA. Now it may take a couple of cans, but no sound and no law against it.

  • Chris Pilot

    Time for jury NULLIFICATION. Vote to acquit any person charged under these unconstitutional laws. WE are the final arbiters of what is constitutional. They can make exercising our God given rights difficult but they cannot take them away. We must let them know that by any and all means available to us. DTOM.


    You do not have to have a lock on it while you are carrying it in the home, so there is your answer, always carry it!

  • Saftgreen

    Thank God for Justice Thomas. Always a sound voice for the 2A and the unalienable right of self defense.

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