U.S. Supreme Court justices weighed tossing out a New York City firearms case, a move that would dash the hopes of gun-rights advocates seeking an expansion of Second Amendment protections.
The justices spent most of an hour-long argument in Washington Monday debating whether to issue a ruling at all, now that New York City has scrapped the handgun-transportation restrictions at the center of the fight. Gun-rights advocates, backed by President
The residents say the now-defunct rules forced them to stop attending shooting competitions and taking licensed handguns to a second home. After the court agreed to hear the case, the city and state changed the rules in an effort to have the dispute thrown out as moot.
A New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association is joining the three men in pressing the appeal. The city’s supporters include Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group started by
“It absolutely will not,” New York’s lawyer, Richard Dearing, responded.
Roberts didn’t clearly indicate whether he was satisfied by that answer. But the chief justice asked no questions about the constitutional issues, perhaps suggesting he didn’t see the need to reach them. Another potential swing vote, Justice
The argument was the court’s first in almost a decade on the reach of the Second Amendment. The court’s decision probably will come next year in the heat of the presidential campaign.
Under the original New York law, people with a licensed handgun at home were allowed to take it to one of seven shooting ranges in the city, but almost nowhere else. Weapons needed to be locked and unloaded during travel, and ammunition had to be put in a separate container. The new rules let people take a gun to a second home or shooting range outside the city.
The court’s Democratic appointees indicated they were inclined to declare the dispute moot.
“What’s left of this case?” Justice
“They made clear that the kind of transport they were allowing, at least within the City of New York, had to be continuous and uninterrupted,” Clement said.
Dearing told the justices that the city wouldn’t enforce the law against someone who stopped for coffee, food, gas or a restroom.
But that wasn’t enough for Justice
“What they have obtained as a result of the new city ordinance and the new state law is a rule that says, yes, you can take the firearm to a firing range outside of New York City, but it must be a direct trip,” Alito said. “It can’t include an hour spent with your mother.”
Deputy Solicitor General
That argument seemed to resonate with Justice
The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York, 18-280.
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