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Sea Change in Firearms Law as The Supreme Court Overturns Restrictions

Keith G. Langer July 1, 2022

The Supreme Court's 6-3 opinion in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen struck down NYC's oppressive licensing procedure and, with it, tolerance of subjective criteria and lesser levels of scrutiny. As a fundamental right, any limitation on firearms possession should be subject to the highest level of review, "strict scrutiny," and the court so held.

Note that Justice Thomas, writing the majority opinion, cites the Caetano v. Massachusetts as an example of how the Court has applied the Second Amendment to modern technology: Electronic Defensive Weapons - stun guns. I submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Commonwealth Second Amendment in that case.

The Court struck down "in the home" limitations and similar restrictions on owning and bearing arms. The decision named six other states which fail to meet its criteria, Massachusetts among them. 


The Court then went on to strike down restrictions in four other states:

  • Young v. Hawaii

    • This case dealt with Hawaii's refusal to issue carry permits for outside the home. (Ninth Circuit)

  • Duncan v. Bonta

    • This case was yet another ban on magazines of over 10 rounds by California. (Ninth Circuit)

  • Bianchi v. Frosh

    • This case involves a ban on so-called “assault weapons” in Maryland. (Fourth Circuit)  Massachusetts has a very similar law.

This does not negate similar laws in MA or RI overnight. The MA Attorney General has made her opposition to the Supreme Court's decisions clear. 


It is likely Caetano-style challenges will be required before MA acknowledges and applies the above Supreme Court decisions.