AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
As the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a challenge to a New York City gun law, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is out with a self-serving op/ed in which he correctly notes the stakes of the case, but spins almost every other fact to try to fit his anti-gun worldview and benefit his presidential campaign.
Bloomberg begins by calling the lawsuit both absurd and dangerous, and attacks the NRA for challenging the law limiting where New York City gun owners can transport their handguns. The NRA, it’s worth noting, is supporting the challenge, but it was actually brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. Bloomberg, who’s now running for president, needs the NRA as his bad guy and not the state-level Second Amendment organization, so he engages in a bit of misinformation right up front.
The lawsuit is absurd, he says, because the law in question has already been changed by the city, and dangerous because of the fact that a Supreme Court decision could have an impact on other gun control laws around the country.
At issue is a New York City regulation that is no longer on the books. The regulation (enacted by the Police Department before I served as mayor) restricted gun owners from transporting their guns to shooting ranges outside the city. It imposed an unnecessary restriction on gun owners’ ability to visit ranges — and it was rightly rescinded. In fact, the state adopted a law prohibiting any locality from adopting a similar rule. And that should’ve closed the case. But the NRA wouldn’t take “yes” for an answer.
Although the case is clearly moot, lawyers for the NRA will try to convince the Supreme Court on Monday that it should proceed. Why? It’s simple: They hope the court will use it as an opening to wipe out basic gun safety laws around the country.
Bloomberg engages in even more revisionist history here, all in an attempt to demonstrate his supposed reasonableness. If he really believed that the law in question imposed an unnecessary restriction on gun owners’ ability to visit ranges, why didn’t he do anything about the law when he was mayor? He had three terms to rescind the rule if he really thought it was unfair, but Bloomberg kept the law on the books and made it his mission to crack down even harder on legal gun owners in the city.
The truth is, Bloomberg and every other gun control advocate had no problem with the New York City law until the Supreme Court decided to hear a challenge to it. That’s when the city changed the regulations in an attempt to moot the case. It wasn’t done because politicians suddenly realized this regulation infringed on the rights of gun owners. It was done in a transparent attempt to avoid court scrutiny and allow the Supreme Court to weigh in once more in support of the right of the people to keep and bear arms. That’s what’s really bugging Bloomberg.
As it turns out, the Supreme Court will consider the mootness issue during the oral arguments, but plaintiffs attorney Paul Clement has a two-pronged argument for why the Court should continue to hear the case. First, he notes that the city’s changes don’t address all of the issues raised by the lawsuit, but even if they did, he argues, the city could simply revert back to its old policy once the Court dismissed the challenge. The city hasn’t acted in good faith in changing the law, so why should we believe it would act in good faith once the law was no longer threatened?
Michael Bloomberg does his best to paint a scary future for the country if the Court proceeds with the case.
If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, the NRA will undoubtedly argue that state regulations requiring a permit to carry a concealed firearm are unconstitutional. While all 50 states allow concealed carry, many have carefully considered laws designed to protect the public and ensure an argument at the mall or movie theater doesn’t turn into a shootout. In Illinois, for instance, local police may object to the issuance of a permit if they know the applicant is a danger to themselves or others. And permit applicants must be 21 years of age or older, possess a valid firearm owner’s identification, take a course involving gun range instruction and pass a marksmanship test.
Here Bloomberg trots out the prospect of future gun cases in order to scare the suburban soccer moms of America. It may be that one day the NRA would try to bring such a case to the Supreme Court, but before we ever get to that point we’re more likely to see the Supreme Court take up a case dealing with “good cause” requirements for concealed carry licenses, like the ones in New York City and a handful of states. The Court already has several challenges to “good cause” requirements that it’s been holding over in conference, and even if the Court were to dismiss the New York City case, as Bloomberg wants, the Court could just as easily grant cert to another Second Amendment case.
Bloomberg’s also exaggerating the ability to obtain a concealed carry license in these states. It’s not that the states have laws “designed to protect the public”, it’s that they have laws preventing the average citizen from exercising their constitutional rights.
Of course now that Bloomberg’s running for president, his op/ed finishes with a pitch to voters.
As president, I will appoint judges who understand that the Second Amendment allows for common sense limits on gun ownership. I’ve spent 15 years working to build a national coalition that is capable of taking on the NRA and winning — and I’m glad to say that we now have the NRA on the ropes. That may be one reason why the NRA is hoping the court will save it.
As much as Bloomberg wants to make this about him and the NRA, it’s not. It’s about a New York City gun law that he now says was unnecessary but kept in place for three full terms, and the opportunity for the Supreme Court to provide some much needed guidance to lower courts about the proper standard of review when considering challenges to gun control laws. The NRA and the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association aren’t looking for the Supreme Court to save their organizations, but to protect the Second Amendment from politicians like him.