NY Carry Case is About Restoration, not “Expansion” of Gun Rights

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in NYSRPA v. Bruen on Wednesday, media coverage was predictable and trite. CNN ran an article titled, “Supreme Court seems poised to expand Second Amendment rights and strike down NY handgun law

The Supreme Court seemed ready to expand Second Amendment rights after hearing arguments for over two hours and expressing skepticism about a New York law that restricts individuals from carrying concealed handguns outside the home for self-defense.

Business Insider had a similar article:

Supreme Court seems open to expanding gun rights in a major Second Amendment case

[…] The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments about a New York gun-permit law in a major case whose outcome could dramatically expand Second Amendment rights.

Newsweek had a good roundup of the arguments in their article, but used language similar to that of CNN and Business Insider:

While conservative justices did voice concerns about how striking down the state’s current law, introduced in 1913, could inadvertently allow guns in sensitive places, such as schools, and suggested there could still be restrictions, they did indicate a willingness to expand gun rights in New York state.

Quoting gun control groups, Education Week took the same position in their article, “Why Schools Have a Stake in U.S. Supreme Court Case That May Expand Gun Rights.”

Schools would stay classified as “sensitive places” where concealed guns aren’t allowed for self-defense under an expanded interpretation of the Second Amendment laid out for the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. 

[…] 

Still, groups such as March for Our Lives, formed after the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and Everytown for Gun Safety, which grew out of the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., took the opportunity in that case to urge the court not to expand Second Amendment rights.

In the leadup to oral arguments, The Hill sang the same tune:

The case has drawn enormous outside interest. Firearms advocates, who say history is on their side, want the justices to use the case as a vehicle to expand gun rights outside the home. Many Democratic-run states and cities, as well as gun control advocacy groups, warn that public safety would be imperiled if gun regulations are scuttled.

I live in New York and know from first-hand experience how awful, ineffective, and unconstitutional the gun laws here are. Several states surrounding New York are freer and yet don’t have the violent crime problems that New York does. According to a ranking based on 2018 data, New York’s neighbor Vermont – a Constitutional Carry state – has the 2nd lowest violent crime rate in the country. (Vermont had a history of strong gun rights until 2018.) States further northeast – New Hampshire and Maine – are also Constitutional Carry states that are ranked the lowest and 3rd lowest in violent crime rate respectively.

If you think it’s unfair to pit New York against those states, adjacent Pennsylvania is also available for comparison. Pennsylvania has been a Shall-Issue state since 1989; Philadelphia was brought under the same carry laws in 1995. Despite decades of being Shall-Issue, Pennsylvania has had an overall lower violent crime rate than New York.

It is reasonable to conclude based on available data that New York’s century-old infringement of Second Amendment rights has not had any effect on its violent crime rate. The state has been through bad and good times with violent crime during the 100+ years its unconstitutional discretionary carry laws have been in effect; if these laws worked, the crime rate would have been on a consistent decline, which clearly isn’t the case.

Striking down these laws is a just and long overdue restoration of law-abiding New Yorkers’ gun rights, not an unprecedented expansion as the media calls it.

Dec 08, 2021 12:30 PM ET