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Mon Dec 2, 2019, 07:17 AM

Argument preview: Justices take up battle over NYC gun ban - and the scope of the Second Amendment?

From https://www.scotusblog.com/2019/11/argument-preview-justices-take-up-battle-over-new-york-city-gun-ban-and-the-scope-of-the-second-amendment/

Argument preview: Justices take up battle over New York City gun ban – and the scope of the Second Amendment?

Posted Mon, November 25th, 2019 3:00 pm by Amy Howe

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post ran on November 18, 2019, as an introduction to this blog’s symposium on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, as well as at Howe on the Court, where it was originally published.

It has been nearly 10 years since the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms applies fully to state and local governments. When the justices return to the bench next month, they will wade into the Second Amendment fray once again, this time hearing oral argument in a challenge to New York City’s ban on transporting licensed handguns outside the city – including to shooting ranges and second homes. The ban was so restrictive that it seemed unlikely to survive Supreme Court review; the only real question seemed to be whether the justices would issue a narrow ruling that only addressed the constitutionality of the city’s ban, or whether they might instead say more about the broader right to have a gun outside the home. But now it’s not clear whether the justices will reach the merits of the case at all, because the city has ended the ban.

The plaintiffs in the case are New York City residents who have licenses to have guns at their homes and want to be able to take their guns either to shooting ranges or competitions or to second homes outside New York City, along with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which describes itself as the “nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization.” They challenged the transport ban as a violation of their Second Amendment rights, but a federal district court ruled for the city, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld that ruling. The challengers then went to the Supreme Court, which agreed to weigh in earlier this year.

The fact that the justices even agreed to take the case was noteworthy. In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to have a gun in the home for self-defense. That decision was followed two years later by McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which the court held that the Second Amendment applies to the states. But in the years that followed, the justices turned down several requests to say more about the scope of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In February 2018, that reluctance prompted Justice Clarence Thomas to dissent from the court’s announcement that it would not review a challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period for gun purchases. In a blistering 14-page opinion, Thomas complained that the “right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan.”


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