When the Heller decision was handed down, followed quickly by the McDonald decision, it seemed like a banner time for the Second Amendment. While neither of these cases went as far as I would have liked with regard to our gun rights, they did move the needle closer toward freedom and send a clear signal to the anti-gunners that our rights can’t go away just because they want them to really, really badly.
But since then, the Supreme Court has been notoriously silent on gun cases. It has rejected a number of cases that would be great opportunities to expand gun rights, including one that challenged the Maryland assault weapon ban.
It seemed like the Court wasn’t ever going to get back to anything that remotely involved the Second Amendment.
Then, on Tuesday, all that changed.
The court said Tuesday it will hear a challenge to New York City’s strict rules for carrying legally owned guns outside the home.
New York city gun owners and the local affiliate of the National Rifle Association are challenging laws that ban owners from transporting guns out of city limits, not even to practice facilities and second homes outside the city. Even within New York, owners are only allowed to take the guns to shooting ranges, but the weapons need to be unloaded and transported in a locked container.
The gun owners and the NRA charge that the regulations violate the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
“The city has presented precisely zero empirical evidence that transporting an unloaded handgun locked up in a container separate from its ammunition (an activity that federal law affirmatively protects) poses any material safety risk,” they argued in a legal brief.
And, they’re right. There’s no material risk.
Further, New York City is a community that doesn’t like guns. You’d think they’d want to let people take guns out of their city, but nope. It has to stay within those confines.
Now the Court will review it, and I can’t imagine any way this stands up. I mean, even if you’re rabidly anti-gun, I think you’d be hardpressed to find a constitutional reason why a firearm can’t leave the city.
Reactions started quickly as the news surfaced, with Gun Owners of America offering this via email:
Today the United States Supreme Court granted a Writ of Certiorari in NYSRP v. NY City, a case in which Gun Owners of America (GOA) and Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) have submitted an amicus brief.
This case challenges New York City’s near-prohibition on possessing or transporting handguns, and this is the first major Second Amendment challenge to be reviewed by the Supreme Court in almost a decade.
GOA’s executive director, Erich Pratt, stated, “Gun owners across the country — especially those ‘behind enemy lines’ living in anti-gun states — are rejoicing that the Supreme Court is taking up a Second Amendment case. For far too long, judges have ignored the Second Amendment, along with the Heller and McDonald decisions, instead employing a ‘balancing’ test that effectively leaves gun owners in anti-gun states with a second-class right to keep and bear arms.”
In fact, GOA’s brief specifically challenges the “balancing” approach taken by judges in the lower courts.
GOA’s brief states, “Heller and McDonald leave little doubt that courts are to assess gun bans and regulations based on text, history, and tradition, not by a balancing test … [where judges] usurp the role of the Framers of the Second Amendment.”
“GOA’s hard-hitting brief before the Supreme Court cuts to the heart of this problem by arguing that judges have to follow the Constitution — and the text of the Second Amendment — rather than imposing their own preconceived views upon the text,” Pratt concluded.
GOA’s brief can be viewed here.
Of course, we’ll have to see exactly how the decision will be worded, and it’ll be quite some time before we actually get a decision on this one, but expect the decision to be a tight ruling on this particular issue rather than a broad condemnation of New York City’s draconian gun control laws. History has shown that the Court tends to be very careful to not step outside of the normal scope of the case before them and there’s nothing to indicate that’s going to change, at least not just yet.
Still, it’ll be a win for New York gun owners if the Court rules in their favor.
Right about now, though, I’m feeling really good about Gorsuch and Kavanaugh being on the bench.