By: Teresa Mull
The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not rule on a Second Amendment case out of New York regarding the transport of firearms.
The Supreme Court said Monday that it will not issue a ruling in a closely watched case over a New York gun regulation that barred transport of handguns outside the city, including to second homes and firing ranges.
In an unsigned opinion, the court said that the rollback of the rule by city and state officials after the court agreed to hear the case effectively ended the dispute without the justices needing to intervene.
Three of the court’s Republican appointees, Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they would not have dismissed the case. Alito, in an opinion joined by Gorsuch and in part by Thomas, wrote that by declining to rule in the case the court allowed itself to be “manipulated.”
According to some reports, the Court has declined to hear this case as it waits to hear other Second Amendment cases, one of which has been brought by the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR).
“The Supreme Court’s continued unwillingness to reign-in out of control Second Amendment infringements by state and local governments is deeply troubling,” said Ryan Flugaur, NAGR’s Senior Political Director. “The New York case is the latest example. It’s no secret that part of the anti-gunners agenda is to yank unconstitutional laws off the books just in time to avoid an unfavorable ruling, only to quietly put new gun controls back on the books as soon as the dust settles. The good news is that there are a several other gun cases on the court’s docket which could be taken up this year, including a landmark case from the National Association for Gun Rights.”
A summary of NAGR’s case can be read here.
“If the court grants cert and hears NAGR v. Mangan, it could deal a crippling blow to state and local governments that are trying to silence gun owners from talking about, or sharing, the anti-gun records of politicians near an election,” Flugaur said. “We’re hopeful it’s just a matter of time before the Court weighs in and ends these abuses of the First and Second Amendments.”
Background of the NY Case
GPM reported previously:
New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York. This case already had oral hearings from the Court on December 2, 2019. The final decision will probably not take place until later in 2020. The entire controversy emerged in 2013 when the N.Y. Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. and various private gun owners filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern district of New York after learning from New York City Police that they could not take their legally owned guns in the city out to their homes outside of the city or to shooting competitions in New Jersey.
The plaintiffs made the case that New York City’s ordinance was a violation of their Second Amendment rights as established by Heller, the Commerce Clause, and the freedom to travel. The District Court did not agree with the plaintiffs, upholding New York City’s ordinance. The plaintiffs then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2015. The Second Circuit confirmed the District Court’s ruling in 2018, arguing that Heller and McDonald only affirmed the right to own guns in defense of a person’s home, not for transportation or the use outside of the home.
After these disappointing results, the plaintiffs petitioned for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, disputing the Second Circuit’s decisions and questioning if the gun transport restriction infringed on their Second Amendment rights, their Dormant Commerce Clause rights, and their right to travel. The Supreme Court eventually granted the petition on January 22, 2019.
New York City features some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. Under previous law, licensed handgun owners were barred from transporting their handguns outside of city limits. Simply bringing a handgun to a shooting range in a neighboring town would have made a licensed handgun owner a criminal.
New York City changed its gun order in a last-minute attempt to avoid an appellate review after the Court agreed to take up the case in 2019; however, the Court did not render the case moot, meaning there is still a dispute between the two parties that the court can still decide on. The Court’s decision to proceed with the case concerns gun control activists because they believe the Court could use the case to expand gun rights.
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at [email protected].