OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strike down a restrictive New York gun permitting law, which would be a major win for the Second Amendment and gun rights.
The nation’s highest court heard arguments in its biggest guns case in more than a decade, which involves a dispute over whether New York’s law violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
Justice Samuel Alito suggested New York City citizens should be allowed to carry firearms on the subway late at night, for instance, while Roberts asked New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, “How many muggings take place in the forest?”
“Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservative members of the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, suggested New York’s law goes too far. Why, Roberts asked, does a person seeking a license to carry a gun in public for self-defense have to show a special need to do so,” KTLA reported.
“The idea that you would need a license to exercise a right is unusual with regard to the Bill of Rights,” he said.
“Could a football stadium or a college campus be off-limits? What sort of place do you think they could be excluded from? Any place where alcohol is served?” Roberts asked.
Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of New York residents who want an unrestricted right to carry concealed weapons in public, replied that while government buildings and schools might be off-limits, bars “might be a tougher case for the government.”
But answering questions from Justices Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett, Clement suggested that perhaps bans on guns in the New York City subway system, Yankee Stadium, and Times Square on New Year’s Eve might be all right.
The court’s liberals seemed willing to allow the state law to remain in place, especially focusing on differences between rural areas and more densely populated cities and suburbs. The law’s defenders have said that striking it down will lead to more guns on the streets of cities including New York and Los Angeles.
The court last issued major gun-rights decisions in 2008 and 2010. Those decisions established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. The question for the court now has to do with carrying a gun in public for self-defense.
“The New York law the court is reviewing has been in place since 1913 and says that to carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense, a person applying for a license has to demonstrate “proper cause,” an actual need to carry the weapon. Applicants who get a license are either issued an unrestricted license, which gives them broad ability to carry a weapon in public, or a restricted license allowing them to carry a gun in certain circumstances. Those circumstances include hunting or target shooting, when traveling for work, or when in backcountry areas,” KTLA reported.
New York argued before the Supreme Court that striking down the restrictive gun law would have “devastating consequences for public safety.”