NRA Loses Appeal Over NY Gun Store Closures

AP Photo/Mike Derer

The right to keep and bear arms protects an individual’s right to own firearms. However, in order for that right to have any meaning, we must have a way to obtain guns. While some are handy enough to build their own from scratch, most of us don’t have that skill set. For us, we need gun stores.

If we don’t have access to a gun store, we don’t necessarily have a right to keep and bear arms.

However, during the pandemic, many states ordered gun stores to close–right at a time when more and more Americans were clamoring to buy a gun. One of those states was, unsurprisingly, New York.

Also unsurprisingly, the NRA filed a lawsuit. It didn’t go the way the organization would have liked, so they appealed it.

Well, that didn’t go so well either.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled against the National Rifle Association in the gun rights group’s lawsuit challenging New York state’s closing of gun stores early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a 3-0 vote, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the NRA’s bid for an injunction was moot because there was “no reasonable prospect” of more closures, after the state legislature curtailed the governor’s power to impose COVID-19 restrictions.

Lawyers for the NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, which represented the state, did not immediately respond to a similar request.

The NRA had sued over a March 2020 executive order by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo closing gun stores because they were “non-essential businesses.” It said the closures violated the Second Amendment and other constitutional provisions.

A federal judge dismissed the NRA’s lawsuit in August 2020, and Cuomo’s order was later rescinded.

In short, the court didn’t actually say Cuomo’s order was legal or constitutional, only that it was over and there wasn’t a high likelihood of that order being issued once again.

That’s something that’s always bugged me about the court system. You can stop all over my rights all you want, but if you stop before it gets to court, there are no repercussions for having done so. The state can do whatever they wish.

It’s like a bully giving a kid a wedgie, but he avoids punishment because he stopped before going to the principal’s office over it.

Nothing about that is right. It may be legal, but it’s a prime example of how what is just and what is legal don’t always occupy the same real estate.

So what now?

Well, the NRA can ask for an en banc hearing before all the judges, though no one can reasonably believe that the results will be any different. Yet that’s just the next step before trying to take it before the Supreme Court.

Even then, I’m skeptical the Court would actually take up the case. Let’s remember that they took up a case involving a gun control law in New York City, but because the city had changed the law, they didn’t make a ruling. This wouldn’t be any different, really.

So I think the NRA would be better off just counting this one as a loss and moving on, I’m afraid. I just don’t think they will.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET