Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York. This will be the first Second Amendment case the High Court has heard in nearly 10 years following its landmark rulings in Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010). The case involves New York City’s passage of a gun-control law banning gun-owning residents from transporting their firearms outside their homes and outside city limits, except to select gun ranges within the city and only then provided their handguns are unloaded, locked up, and separate from ammunition. In other words, paper weights that are useless for self-defense.
The draconian and obviously unconstitutional law was immediately challenged by Second Amendment advocates. In a move clearly demonstrating that New York officials knew their law violates the Second Amendment, they sought to prevent the issue from being taken up by the Supreme Court by changing the law to allow gun-owning residents to transport their firearms outside city limits provided it was “directly to and from” a second home or shooting range.
However, this “voluntary cessation” didn’t stop the justices from deciding to hear the case, as they rightly note that the issue at stake is the Second Amendment’s protection of individuals’ right to bear and not merely possess arms. Furthermore, New York officials are clearly seeking to undermine the Heller decision, which protects the right to bear firearms for the “core lawful purpose of self-defense,” as well as “learning to handle and use [arms]” and “hunting.” By limiting a gun owner’s right to bear firearms only in his place of residence, New York was effectively attempting to gut Heller, which is likely why the justices are keen to take up this case to reassert the Court’s judicial authority. Clarence Thomas, for one, has been particularly vocal about the erosion of the Second Amendment by municipalities and lower courts.
Predictably, the anti-gun crowd isn’t happy. Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) warned the Court that if it did not drop the case, he and his fellow Democrats would work to “restructure” the Court. “The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” Whitehouse ridiculously asserted. He added, “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.” Oh, the irony. Who exactly is seeking to inject “the influence of politics” into the Court in order to eliminate Americans’ Second Amendment rights? It certainly isn’t the NRA or Republicans.
If the Court follows the precedent it set with Heller, it’s likely that the ruling will come down to a 5-4 decision. No wonder anti-Second Amendment activists are so upset over the Court’s decision to hear the case.