Supreme Court hears first Second Amendment case in over a decade

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in the first Second Amendment case to come before it since 2010.

In New York State Rifle & Pistol v. City of New York, the case addresses “whether New York City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is consistent with the Second Amendment, the commerce clause and the constitutional right to travel.”

Under New York City regulations, residents were not permitted to transport a licensed handgun outside of the city.

The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA) case challenges the city’s licensing rule, which restricts a gun owner’s movement when transporting their firearm. NYSRPA argues the restrictions fail any level of scrutiny under the Constitution, burden the fundamental right to travel, and violate the Constitution’s commerce clause by controlling economic activity beyond the city’s borders.

First filed in 2011, and after a 2nd Appellate Court ruling in 2013, the NYSRPA next appealed to the Supreme Court in 2014. Both the district and appellate courts had ruled in favor of the city.

New York City banned the transportation of licensed handguns anywhere within city limits with the exception of gun ranges. The city requires residents to obtain a “premises license” in order to possess a handgun in their home or transport it to one of the seven gun ranges in the city.

Since the 2013 appellate ruling, the city and state amended the laws, arguing in its July request for dismissal that “independently and together, the new statute and regulation give petitioners everything they have sought in this lawsuit.”

The amended regulations now allow residents with a premises license to transport handguns to another residence within or outside of city limits and to bring them with them to gun ranges outside the city.

NYSRPA argued the new regulations still warranted review regardless of the changes the city and state made. The Supreme Court agreed and rejected the city’s request for dismissal.

“In short, the city continues to claim plenary authority over any transport outside the home and its revised rule is plainly designed to provide the bare minimum of what the city believes will suffice to moot this case, and not an inch more,” NYSRPA stated in its opposition brief.

The most recent Second Amendment cases heard before the court were the District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010. In these cases, the court ruled that the Second Amendment is an individual right to be upheld by both federal and state governments.

“Under New York law, the right to keep arms is limited only to certain Americans who meet requirements set by the city,” Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, told The Center Square. “These American citizens who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right to own a firearm are subjected to invasive government screening, arbitrary waiting periods, and substantial fees.”

“But even among the few Americans who qualify, they cannot ‘bear arms’ in the true sense of the phrase, as recognized in Heller,” Pratt added. “Instead, their right to keep and bear arms has been, historically, treated like a privilege, as they could only ‘keep’ arms in their home or place of business. And when carrying their handgun to an approved shooting range, honest citizens have to keep their handgun unloaded and locked away, rendering the firearm totally useless for self-defense.”

In its amicus brief submitted to the court, GOA encouraged the court “to use the language of the Second Amendment to ensure that no city or state will ever again be allowed to impose such infringements.”

George Washington University law professor Robert Cottrol has opined that justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh all seem to “favor a strong view of the Second Amendment.”

This article was first published by The Center Square.



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