The U.S. Supreme Court announced on April 26, 2021, that it will review a New York state law that imposes overly restrictive limits on law-abiding Americans’ ability to carry firearms outside their homes. Specifically, New York requires concealed-carry applicants to demonstrate “proper cause” to carry a firearm. The case is known as NY State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett. It is the first time in more than a decade the high court has accepted a Second Amendment case for review, which was the June 2010 case of McDonald v. City of Chicago.
New York is among eight states that severely limit who has the right to carry a weapon in public. The other seven are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The court had turned down a similar review in June 2020, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. New York officials called on the court to reject the appeal, saying its law promotes public safety and crime reduction — and neither bans people from carrying firearms nor allows everyone to do so. Some federal courts have upheld the permit limits, and others haven’t.
Paul Clement, representing challengers to New York’s permit law, said the court should use the case to settle the issue once and for all. “Thus, the nation is split, with the Second Amendment alive and well in the vast middle of the nation, and those same rights disregarded near the coasts,” Clement wrote on behalf of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and two New York residents.
In a December brief, the gun-rights defenders called it “the single most important unresolved Second Amendment question” since the last major firearms owners’-rights decision. Regarding the current challenge, “A law that flatly prohibits ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying a handgun for self-defense outside the home cannot be reconciled with the Court’s affirmation of the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” the RKBA defenders wrote. “The Second Amendment does not exist to protect only the rights of the happy few who distinguish themselves from the body of ‘the people’ through some ‘proper cause.’ To the contrary, the Second Amendment exists to protect the rights of all the people.”
“The Second Amendment protects an individual right to not only keep arms, but to bear them,” Second Amendment Foundation Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said. “SAF has several right-to-carry cases filed that include challenges to restrictive laws in New Jersey, Maryland and New York City. A favorable ruling in this case will certainly impact those cases.”
“This is one of the most important Second Amendment cases to ever come before the Supreme Court because it goes to the heart of Americans’ right to keep themselves and their families safe at all times,” U.S. Concealed Carry Association President and Founder Tim Schmidt said. “The fundamental, natural-born right to defend yourself or your family against harm does not end outside one’s home. It’s long past time for the Court to affirm that.”
The Second Amendment case involving the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association marks the high court’s first look at gun rights since Justice Amy Coney Barrett came on board in October, making a supposed 6-3 conservative majority. I’m not so sure the split is that wide. Justice Brett Kavanaugh looks soft to me, and Chief Justice Roberts never met constitutional language he couldn’t fudge to mean something else. Even with Barrett, which isn’t a given, that adds up to a 4-5 decision. I would love to be wrong.