For almost a decade now, the Supreme Court has been playing Lucy and the Football with Second Amendment cases. Every time a new challenge to oppressive gun control laws has come up since McDonald v. Chicago in 2010, gun rights advocates have gotten their hopes up, only to have them dashed when the court passed on hearing the cases. But this year, with a more conservative bench holding sway, the long drought may finally be over. The court agreed this week to take up the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York, and if they overrule the lower courts it could have a dramatic, positive effect on Second Amendment rights across the country. (Time)
The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.
The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.
The challengers are represented by prominent lawyer Paul Clement, who has been urging the justices to elaborate on the extent of constitutional gun rights the Supreme Court declared in decisions in 2008 and 2010. The court had previously rejected several appeals.
The New York City law in question deals with the few people who somehow manage to obtain a permit to own a handgun in the Big Apple. It states that handgun owners can’t take their firearm with them when they leave their home unless they are traveling to and from a licensed shooting range, and even then the weapon must be unloaded and locked in a gun case.
Needless to say, that doesn’t make a firearm particularly useful if you’re attacked by a mugger on your way to the car. It also makes it very convenient for a criminal to be able to steal the weapon without fear of being shot in the process.
The District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the plaintiff’s case more than a year ago and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld their decision last year. Attorneys for the NYSRPA are making a strong argument, claiming that both the transport ban and the court’s decision to uphold it are “extreme outliers even among Second Amendment decisions.”
What this really comes down to is the seeming ability of states and municipalities to effectively ignore the decisions in Heller and McDonald. A patchwork of such laws have cropped up across the country, with legislators claiming that everyone has an individual right to keep and bear arms in the wake of those cases, but then giving a wink and a nod by putting so many restrictions on the ability to own a gun that the owner’s rights are effectively nullified.
With Kennedy gone and Kavanaugh in his place, there may be hope that New York’s law will be rejected, followed by similar bans in other states. You can tell liberals are getting nervous about this one. Slate already published a screed about how the Supreme Court is going to “make every state’s gun laws look like Texas.”
We should all be so lucky.