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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Second Amendment Case

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in NY State Rifle & Pistol, et al.,v. New York, NY, et al. This is the first time in nearly 10 years since the Court has agreed to hear a Second Amendment after its landmark decisions in Heller and McDonald. With Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh appointed to the bench by President Trump, it finally appears that the Second Amendment may be getting some much-needed attention from the Court.

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New York City grants most residents a license that only allows for a license holder to possess a handgun within their home and to transport it to one of the seven shooting facilities within the city. As a result, New York City residents are barred from transporting a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting facility outside of the city limits. This case, brought by three individuals and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association challenges that prohibition.

The District Court previously dismissed the challenge, finding that the licensing structure “merely regulates rather than restricts the right to possess a firearm in the home and is a minimal, or at most, modest burden on the right.” On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision.

The Plaintiffs argue that, among other things, the City’s restriction violates the Second Amendment because it denies them the ability to transport a handgun to and from secondary residences outside the city limits, even though there is no question that they are entitled to possess them in both locations. New York City takes the position that the transportation of unloaded firearms that are locked up pose a safety risk. To support that claim, the City has argued that by prohibiting its residents from transporting their unloaded and locked-up handguns outside of city limits, public safety will increase because it will decrease the amount of firearms being transported across the City.

The case also presents the opportunity for the Court to address what level of scrutiny courts need to apply when deciding cases that involve the Second Amendment. For readers that are unaware, there are three levels of scrutiny which are rational basis, intermediate scrutiny, and strict scrutiny. Rational basis has the lowest burden to meet while strict scrutiny has the highest. Courts have been analyzing laws which affect the Second Amendment under an intermediate scrutiny standard, even though other constitutional rights are typically afforded an analysis under the strict scrutiny standard.

SCOTUS Blog has the Petition for Certiorari and supporting briefs available for viewing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Kraut is a firearms law attorney practicing in southeastern PA and across the country federally. He hosts The Legal Brief, a show dedicated to crushing the various myths and misinformation around various areas of the gun world and The Gun Collective Podcast. He was also the general manager of a gun store in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

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