Supreme Court to hear consequential NYC gun law case

The Supreme Court has decided to proceed with a case challenging the legality of New York City’s handgun permitting system, which previously prevented its citizens from traveling outside the city with a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun.

New York City had requested that the case, scheduled to be heard on December 2, be declared moot because it removed most of the travel restrictions in June 2019. However, the court ruled on October 7 that oral arguments will go forward as planned.

The case — New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York — will be the first major gun-related case to be heard by the high court in nearly 10 years, and is seen by Second Amendment supporters and gun rights advocates as an opportunity for the now-conservative court to scrutinize gun control laws for the first time in many years.

“The Supreme Court saw through New York City’s blatant attempt to evade judicial review in this important case,” said Jason Ouimet, executive Director of National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the NRA. “This case presents a national opportunity to confirm a simple truth that New York’s politicians refuse to accept: Our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is fundamental, and it doesn’t vanish when we exit our homes.”

New York City has been attempting to stop the oral arguments as far back as June, when they loosened restrictions in hopes of appeasing the plaintiffs and their allies in the case.

Prior to June, handgun owners holding a “premises license” could only transport their firearms to and from a specific home or business address, or a designated gun range within the five boroughs of New York.

In June, New York City changed the law so that residents can now transport firearms to second homes, businesses and shooting ranges outside of city limits. Even though the law was revised, the petitioners are hoping the court will address bigger legal questions about transporting guns and gun ownership.

The New York Rifle and Pistol Association, the NRA and other gun rights groups are concerned that the law violated Second Amendment rights, the Commerce Clause and the right to travel. The case was previously brought before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2015, which upheld the ordinance’s constitutionality under the basis that citizens could still freely travel outside the city without their guns, then purchasing and using weapons bought out of city.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, and granted certiorari on January 22, 2019. The city wrote the Supreme Court in July, petitioning for a moot case because of the revisions made in June making it easier for city residents to transport their firearms.

On October 7, the Supreme Court decided to go forward with the case, stating that “The question of mootness will be subject to further consideration at oral argument.”

“The city clearly understands that their ordinance is indefensible and is attempting to avoid a positive Second Amendment decision by the Court,” said Tom King, executive director of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.