New York City has voluntarily withdrawn one aspect of its gun control laws. This was done in an effort to stop the Supreme Court from hearing the case of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York. The law in question forbids residents with valid gun permits from transporting their firearms virtually anywhere outside their home. The sole exception is if they are traveling to or from an approved shooting range inside the city, and even then the weapon must be unloaded and locked in an approved container, rendering the firearm completely useless in an emergency situation. (You can read a good review of the law at Reason.)
That law had previously been challenged in both district court and a federal court of appeals and it was upheld both times. So why throw in the towel now? The simple answer is that they’re frightened of what might happen if the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court gets hold of it. (Washington Post)
Gun-control groups operate under a no-news-is-good-news approach to the Supreme Court, leery of giving what they view as a strengthened conservative majority the chance to expand gun rights and weaken restrictive laws.
In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, which the court accepted in January, the city and state of New York appear to agree. They have essentially surrendered, changing the restrictions at issue even though the city successfully defended them before a district judge and a federal appeals court.
New York says it has given those who hold licenses to have guns on their premises exactly what they asked for — a greater ability to transport their weapons through and outside the city — and there no longer is a controversy for the Supreme Court to settle.
If this case goes before the Supremes, they might not only throw out the provision regarding the transportation of firearms but instead ditch the entire thing. That would set a precedent that could affect gun control laws across the entire nation, not to mention endangering some aspects of the New York State SAFE Act as well. It appears that the city is willing to go home and lick their wounds rather than risking another decision on par with Heller that could overturn the entire gun control apple cart.
Will they get away with it? It looks like they just might. The court has agreed to accept briefs and hear arguments asking for the case to be dismissed on October 1st, one week before the next session begins. The city is relying on the precedent established by Chief Justice John Roberts in the dismissal of an unrelated case when he invoked the phrase suggesting that sometimes the plaintiff has to be able “to take yes for an answer.”
While Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have suggested the court needs to take on more Second Amendment cases, the rest of the judges have been far more gunshy (if you’ll pardon the phrase). Sadly, I won’t be shocked if they take this opportunity to duck yet another touchy gun rights case, rather than being forced to make a tough call. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong, but it would be surprising to see them insist on pushing the case through anyway.