The Supreme Court Is Poised to Let Rambo Ride the Subway

The Supreme Court Is Poised to Let Rambo Ride the Subway

The US Supreme Court Building. (Getty images) Subscribe now for as little as $2 a month! On a winter night in 1984, Bernhard Goetz brought his handgun on the New York City subway and shot four young unarmed black men he claimed were trying to rob him. The people he shot were never charged with attempted robbery, which they would have been had Goetz had any evidence of the crime. Goetz claimed he had bought the gun for self-defense after being attacked on the subway three years earlier. The story drew national attention. Some people hailed him as a hero, others a villain. Goetz was eventually charged with assault and attempted murder but was only convicted on one count of carrying an unlicensed firearm. He served eight months in prison and, as far as I know, is still out there somewhere in the world, armed and dangerous. Goetz’s case did not come up at the Supreme Court yesterday, during oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen . But as I listened to conservative lawyers and justices congratulate themselves on rewriting the Second Amendment into a grotesque invitation to commit murder and suicide, I felt Goetz in the room. I felt his irrational fears and racist beliefs being warped into a new imprimatur of constitutional validity. And I felt a new generation of Goetz’s locking and loading. The issue in front of the court was New York State’s gun licensing rules for a concealed weapon. […]

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