The Supreme Court session that begins today will include a significant case having to do with gun rights. The major issue in the case is “whether the (NY) City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is consistent with the Second Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel.”
Some background from the application to be heard:
“New York City prohibits its residents from possessing a handgun without a license, and the only license the City makes available to most residents allows its holder to possess her handgun only in her home or en route to one of seven shooting ranges within the city. The City thus bans its residents from transporting a handgun to any place outside city limits-even if the handgun is unloaded and locked in a container separate from its ammunition, and even if the owner seeks to transport it only to a second home for the core constitutionally protected purpose of self-defense, or to a more convenient out-of-city shooting range to hone its safe and effective use.
The City asserts that its transport ban promotes public safety by limiting the presence of handguns on city streets. But the City put forth no empirical evidence that transporting an unloaded handgun, locked in a container separate from its ammunition, poses a meaningful risk to public safety. Moreover, even if there were such a risk, the City’s restriction poses greater safety risks by encouraging residents who are leaving town to leave their handguns behind in vacant homes, and it serves only to increase the frequency of handgun transport within city limits by forcing many residents to use an incity range rather than more convenient ranges elsewhere. ”
The New York Times explained:
In December, the court is scheduled to hear its first Second Amendment case in almost a decade, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, No. 18-280. But it is not clear that the argument will take place.
When the court agreed to decide the case in January, it seemed poised to issue a significant decision on the scope of the right to bear arms. That prospect alarmed gun control proponents, who urged New York officials to repeal the challenged regulation.
The city did so in July, and state lawmakers enacted a law that appears to make it impossible for city officials to change their minds. That would seem to make the case moot.
The regulation, which appeared to be unique in the nation, had allowed residents with so-called premises licenses to take their guns to one of seven shooting ranges in the city. But it prohibited them from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns were unloaded and locked in containers separate from ammunition.
The challengers have urged the justices to hear the case even so, saying that some elements of the revised law remain problematic and that the justices should not encourage litigation gamesmanship.
This case could be important partly because it will reveal more about how justices might rule in future gun-related cases. In 2008, the Court ruled 5-4 to establish an “individual right” to keep a gun in a house for self-defense. The “conservative majority” that sits on the Court now could send a strong signal in this case.