AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
When the Supreme Court agreed to hear a Second Amendment case, a lot of us rejoiced. I sure did and I know I wasn’t alone. Further, the Supreme Court was taking on New York City, which was too juicy to ignore.
Sure, the case didn’t hinge on the overall restrictions on gun owners, just one that barred people who had “premises permits” from taking their guns outside of the city, but still…
Well, now the Big Apple is considering changing that particular rule.
Efforts by the New York City Police Department and city officials to change to the restrictions at issue in the case have gun owners and gun rights advocates crying foul, as they argue it’s a transparent move by the city to preempt a ruling from the Supreme Court, which would be its first in a Second Amendment case in a decade.
“This was just a blatant attempt to stop the court case, and the changes they proposed were miniscule,” Tom King, executive director of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which is challenging the measure, said. “This is their last-gasp measure to stop the case.”
But last month, lawyers for New York City and the New York City Police Department informed the court of a proposed rule that would allow licensed handgun owners to transport their firearms to three additional locations: second homes, shooting ranges, or competitions outside of city limits.
If the rule were approved, lawyers for the city of New York told the Supreme Court in a letter last month, it would render the case moot. Because of this possibility, the city asked the justices to put the briefing schedule on hold pending final action on the proposed rule.
The Supreme Court this week denied the request, which had gun rights organizations scoffing.
“Our attitude is: too little, too late,” Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said. “Our hope is that the court will just continue on and deal with this issue head-on.”
Attorneys for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and the handgun owners, meanwhile, argued the case has been winding its way through the courts for more than six years, during which the city has “vigorously defended” the transport ban. The possible change in the law, they said, is a “nakedly transparent effort to evade” review by the Supreme Court.
I’m forced to agree. For six years, New York City had the opportunity to change the rule and didn’t. It defended it in court instead. Now, it’s going before a Supreme Court it knows damn well won’t take its side. It’s trying to undermine that possibility.
After all, the case hinges on the ruling, but the justices may do more than overturn that rule. They may also overturn the idea of premises permits in general.
The idea of not wanting a case to go to the Supreme Court isn’t new, either.
Most recently, Washington D.C. took a lower court ruling on the chin, a ruling that made them a shall issue jurisdiction despite its anti-gun leanings. At the time, the city was transparent about how they opted not to go to the Supreme Court because if it ruled against them, it could have national repercussions.
It’s possible that New York City has similar concerns. It may well be fearful that should the court rule against it, the Supreme Court may do so in such a way as to undermine gun control efforts throughout the entire nation, thus the desire to change the rule and block the hearing in the first place.
Luckily, it appears the Supreme Court was unswayed and will still hear the case. That means that even if New York City changes the rule, it still has to defend the old rule to at least some degree. If it doesn’t, what else will the Supreme Court overturn?
This case is getting a lot more interesting.