In July of this year, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Washington DC's "may-issue" concealed carry laws. Since then, Second Amendment supporters across the country - particularly those in may-issue states like NJ, NY, CA, etc - were waiting to see if the liberal-dominated DC Court of Appeals would rehear the case before the full court and reinstate DC's draconian gun control laws. Fortunately, by a unanimous vote, the court denied a petition for a hearing - essentially striking down DC's gun control laws.
A unanimous vote from the DC Court of Appeals didn't happen by accident. That's rare to see on such a contentious legal issue like the Second Amendment. It's actually shocking given that the DC circuit is a 7-4 liberal majority and the original ruling contained a dissent, leaving a reasonable person to expect the dissenting judge would have voted for a rehearing.
Since we already know that all the judges did not agree with the original ruling striking down DC's gun control laws, it's likely that they unanimously voted to uphold the ruling so the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) would finally take up a Second Amendment case and rule on numerous issues. It's their way of telling SCOTUS "can you please tell us how to judge the Second Amendment? Because since 2010 you've been AWOL on the issue."
As of now the lower courts have just been disastrous for the Second Amendment, each Circuit with different standards of review with little input from the SCOTUS on how to approach cases. With no clear guidelines (from their legal perspective... How do you mess up "shall not be infringed?) lawyers and judges have ran around like chickens with their heads cut off with circuits disagreeing with each other and even themselves.
Now that the DC circuit refused to rehear the case, that means there's a double circuit split on the issue of carrying a firearm outside the home. With the 7th and DC Circuits on the side of the Second Amendment, and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 9th circuits having made up complete nonsense in order to say that the "bear" part of the Second Amendment doesn't really exist, or that if it does it can be regulated out of existence. This double circuit split forces SCOTUS' hands to take a case and resolve it once and for all. Normally the Court will take a case if there is only a single circuit split, but as mentioned earlier, SCOTUS has been AWOL on the Second Amendment since 2010.
With SCOTUS' hand apparently forced, they're almost certainly going to take up the case. If they uphold the ruling, that will strike down NJ's restrictive "justifiable need" standard once and for all - forcing NJ to adopt shall issue concealed carry laws.
This will finally make justifiable need nothing more than a history lesson for our children.
With the current composition of SCOTUS, this seems more likely than not. Some are worried about Justices Kennedy or Roberts going awry, but both of them voted in the majority for the Heller and MacDonald cases. Fortunately, Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas are solid on the Second Amendment. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but it looks like this could be it...
The time that SCOTUS would hear the case is dependent on when/if DC appeals to the Supreme Court. The window is closing for them to have the case heard this Fall and thus get a ruling around February 2018, but it could happen. It's more likely they will appeal later and the case would be heard in Spring 2018 and we would get a ruling in June 2018. Of course, technically DC could just not appeal the ruling, and then nothing would happen for us in NJ, but all signs point to them appealing. They're not just going to allow the Constitution to be enforced in a place as "progressive" as Washington D.C.!
We will keep you updated on further developments.
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