Supreme Court Takes First Gun-Rights Case in a Decade

‘The city’s ban on transporting handguns outside city limits is an extreme, unjustified and irrational restriction…’

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Concealed carry Photo by ibropalic (CC)

(Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News) The U.S. Supreme Court will consider bolstering constitutional gun rights for the first time in almost a decade, agreeing to hear a challenge to New York City rules that sharply limit where licensed handguns may be taken.

The court said it will hear an appeal from three city handgun owners and an advocacy group who say New York has the most extreme firearm-transportation restrictions in the country.

The court is expected to hear arguments in its next term starting in October.

The case may demonstrate the impact of the newest justice, Brett Kavanaugh, whose appeals court record suggests he’ll be a more aggressive enforcer of gun rights than the justice he replaced, Anthony Kennedy.

The court hadn’t taken up a Second Amendment case since it threw out a Chicago handgun ban in 2010. That followed a 2008 decision that for the first time said the Constitution protects individual gun rights.

Under New York law, people with a licensed handgun in their home may take it to one of seven shooting ranges in the city, but almost nowhere else. Weapons must be locked and unloaded during travel, and ammunition must be put in a separate container.

The residents who are suing say they want to be able to take their handguns to more convenient target ranges outside the city and, in the case of a Staten Island man, to his second home. The residents say the rules undercut their constitutional right to have a handgun in a house or apartment for self-protection.

“The city’s ban on transporting handguns outside city limits is an extreme, unjustified and irrational restriction on Second Amendment rights,” the residents and the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association argued in their appeal.

A federal appeals court in New York upheld the restrictions, saying the residents have sufficient options. The three-judge panel said New Yorkers can go to local shooting ranges, use rented weapons at out-of-town facilities, and acquire additional weapons for second homes.

New York urged the Supreme Court not to hear the case. “The rule does not severely burden or even meaningfully impact the core of the Second Amendment right,” the city argued in court papers.

The city said the restrictions help protect public safety by “better regulating and minimizing the instances of unlicensed transport of firearms on city streets.”

The case doesn’t directly address the right to carry a loaded firearm outside the home, an issue that has divided lower courts.

The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York, 18-280.

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