ERIE NEWS NOW.COM September 30, 2019 – As the country reels from mass shootings over the summer and the political branches bicker over the scope of an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, the Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors this week to consider whether or not to proceed with a case that could impact Second Amendment rights.
The case, currently scheduled for early December, is the first major Second Amendment case the court would hear since the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s landmark DC versus Heller 2008 opinion and a follow-up opinion two years later.
Supporters of gun rights believe lower courts have been
thumbing their noses at those opinions by upholding some restrictions, and are
eager for a newly solidified 5-4 conservative majority of the court to take up
the issue and rule in the coming months.
The New York City gun law regulates where licensed hand gun owners can take a locked and unloaded handgun. When the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case, the law blocked licensed individuals from removing a handgun from the address listed on the license except to travel to nearby authorized small arms ranges or shooting clubs. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and individual plaintiffs challenged the law arguing that it was too restrictive and that a New Yorker could not transport his handgun to his “second home for the core constitutional purpose of self-defense or to an upstate county to participate in a shooting competition, or even across the bridge to a neighboring city for target practice.” The Trump administration urged the Supreme Court to overturn the law.
“New York City’s transport ban infringes the right to
keep and bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd and 14th Amendments,” Solicitor
General Noel Francisco argued in a friend of the court brief earlier this year.
In a twist, since the Supreme Court granted the case, the
law was changed and lawyers for New York are now asking the justices to dismiss
the challenge, canceling the December oral arguments.
“An intervening change in law entitling plaintiffs to
everything they seek is a classic event that renders litigation moot,” the
New York lawyers argue in court papers. The city changed the challenged
regulation to enable licensed owners to transport their handguns to additional
locations “including second homes or shooting ranges outside of city
In addition, the State of New York amended its handgun
licensing statute to require localities to allow licensed gun owners to engage
in such transport.
But critics of the law say that the only reason the law was amended was because supporters of gun regulations feared that the Supreme Court’s new conservative majority might use the New York law to render a broad decision cutting back on gun restrictions. [Read More]