The Supreme Court is to hear the case on New York’s gun license law

The Supreme Court is preparing to deal with a gun rights case that could lead to more guns on the streets of New York and Los Angeles and threatens to restrict guns in subways, airports, bars, churches, schools and other places where people gather.

The case, which the judges will hear on Wednesday, comes as gun violence has increased and it could dramatically increase the number of people eligible to carry firearms as they go about their daily lives. The case centers on New York’s restrictive gun license law and whether lawmakers are entitled to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

Weapons control groups say that if a Supreme Court ruling requires states to lift restrictions, the result will be more violence. Weapons rights groups, meanwhile, say the risk of a confrontation is precisely why they have the right to be armed for self-defense.

This archive photo on November 5, 2020 shows the Supreme Court in Washington (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite, File)

This archive photo on November 5, 2020 shows the Supreme Court in Washington (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

Weapons advocates hope the court, with a 6-3 Conservative majority, is ready to stand on their side. They want the right to say that New York law is too restrictive, just as similar laws are in other states. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

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“The effort really could not be higher,” said Jonathan Lowy, chief adviser to the arms control group Brady.

The court last issued major firearms rights in 2008 and 2010. These rulings established a nationwide right to keep a firearm at home for self-defense. The question for the court now is whether there is a similar second amending right to carry a firearm in public.

The issue is not a problem in most of the country, where gun owners have a hard time legally carrying their guns when they go out. But about half a dozen states, including populous California and several eastern states, limit gun ownership to those who can demonstrate a special need to do so. The judges could decide whether these laws, “can issue” laws, can stand.

The fact that the High Court deals with a gun rights case at all is a change after years in which it routinely rejected them. A gun case that the judges agreed to hear ended anticlimactically in 2020 when the judges dropped the case.

But after the death of Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year and her replacement by Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the court agreed to wade into the arms debate again.

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Eric Tirschwell, the legal director at Everytown for Gun Safety, said there is “cause for concern” for groups like his that “a type of law that the court was not interested in or willing to review in the past is de nu. “

The New York law, which the court is reviewing, has been in place since 1913, saying that in order to carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense, a person applying for a license must demonstrate “real cause,” a real need for to carry the weapon. When local officials issue a gun license, it is either unlimited – allowing the person to carry a gun anywhere that is not prohibited by law – or restricted, allowing the person to carry a gun under certain circumstances. This may include carrying a handgun for hunting or shooting when traveling for work or in rural areas.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 14: Police gather on the scene of a shooting in Brooklyn, one of many during the day, July 14, 2021 in New York City.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic candidate for New York City Mayor Eric Adams held a joint news conference in Brooklyn today where the two leaders spoke about the rising rates of gun violence across the city.  The governor announced that the state of New York will soon offer 4,000 summer jobs and full-time jobs with training to youth in high-crime neighborhoods.  (Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JULY 14: Police gather on the scene of a shooting in Brooklyn, one of many during the day, July 14, 2021 in New York City. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic candidate for New York City Mayor Eric Adams held a joint news conference in Brooklyn today where the two leaders spoke about the rising rates of gun violence across the city. The governor announced that the state of New York will soon offer 4,000 summer jobs and full-time jobs with training to youth in high-crime neighborhoods. (Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and two private citizens challenging the law have told the Supreme Court that it “makes it virtually impossible for an ordinary, law-abiding citizen to obtain a license to carry a weapon of self-defense.”

Lawyers for the group say the text of the second amendment, along with history and tradition, supports their argument that there is a right to carry a gun outside the home. The group also says that New York law has a discriminatory origin, that it was originally intended to give officials a wide margin of maneuver to keep weapons out of the hands of newly arrived immigrants from Europe, especially Italians.

New York, for its part, denies it, saying the second amendment allows states to restrict the transportation of weapons in public. It also points to the history, tradition and text of the second amendment. The state says its restrictions promote public safety, citing research that says places that restrict public transportation of weapons have lower rates of gun-related homicides and other violent crimes. New York says their law is not a flat ban on carrying weapons, but a more moderate restriction.

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Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, said in an interview that part of the problem with New York law is that the chances of a person getting an unlimited license depend on whether he or she is in rural setting or more. the urban area of ​​the state.

Both proponents of gun rights and gun control say it is unclear how broadly the court may be willing to judge and that they will closely follow arguments for clues, especially from the court’s three newest members.

The three nominees of former President Donald Trump – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett – are conservative but were not on the court when the judges last issued major gun rights rulings. Their actions so far, however, have given proponents of gun rights reason to be hopeful.

The judges of the US Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait, which includes the new associate justice, top row, far right, in the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Friday, November 30, 2018. Seated from left: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Attorney Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts, Attorney General Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Attorney General Samuel Alito Jr.  Standing back from left: Assistant Attorney Neil Gorsuch, Assistant Attorney Sonia Sotomayor, Assistant Attorney Elena Kagan and Assistant Attorney Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.  (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

The judges of the US Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait, which includes the new associate justice, top row, far right, in the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Friday, November 30, 2018. Seated from left: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Attorney Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts, Attorney General Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Attorney General Samuel Alito Jr. Standing back from left: Assistant Attorney Neil Gorsuch, Assistant Attorney Sonia Sotomayor, Assistant Attorney Elena Kagan and Assistant Attorney Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

In 2011, Kavanaugh argued as an appeals judge in a dissent that the District of Columbia’s ban on semi-automatic rifles and its requirement to register weapons was unconstitutional. Last year, he called on the court to take up a new arms case soon, saying he was concerned that lower courts were not following the Supreme Court’s precedent.

Gorsuch, for his part, would have settled the gun case in 2020 that his colleagues threw. And Barrett, as an appeals court judge, wrote in a dissent that a sentence for a non-violent crime should not automatically disqualify anyone from owning a gun; she said her colleagues treated the second amendment as a “second-class right.”

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However, gun control groups hope conservatives can still vote to uphold New York law. A group of prominent conservatives, including former Federal Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig, have called on the court to do so in a brief to the court. And earlier this year, judges at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 7-4 ruling dismissed a challenge to Hawaii’s licensing provisions. Conservative Judge Jay Bybee wrote that a “review of more than 700 years of English and American legal history reveals a strong theme: the government has the power to regulate arms in public.”

The court’s three liberal judges are widely expected to take New York’s side.

Depending on what the judges ultimately say, the laws of other states may also be affected. The Biden administration, which urges judges to uphold New York law, says California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws. Connecticut and Delaware also have “can issue” laws, though they are somewhat different.

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