The United States Law Week

Supreme Court to Hear First Gun Case in Years

Jan. 22, 2019, 2:35 PM

It’s been nine years since the U.S. Supreme Court last addressed gun rights protected by the Second Amendment.

But that changed today when the court agreed to hear a case challenging New York City’s decades-old ban on transporting any handguns to locations outside the city, including those that are licensed, locked, and unloaded.

In 2008, the court established an individual right under the Second Amendment to possess guns for self-defense in the home. In 2010, it said states can’t infringe that right.

Since then, however, the court has avoided the issue, refusing to review challenges to various state and local gun regulations. Its reticence has irked Justice Clarence Thomas, who previously claimed his brethren are treating gun rights as second class rights.

Now, however, the court has an opportunity to address the proper level of scrutiny to apply to gun regulations.

The lower courts have uniformly applied intermediate scrutiny in Second Amendment cases, asking whether a regulation is substantially related to public safety. Gun rights advocates, however, generally assert that any regulation that impinges on the right to bear arms must survive strict scrutiny and be narrowly tailored to promote a compelling governmental interest.

The Second Circuit here upheld New York’s ban by applying intermediate scrutiny.

The question the Supreme Court agreed to review, however, isn’t limited to the Second Amendment. It also asks whether the ban violates the Commerce Clause and the constitutional right to travel.

The case is N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. City of New York, U.S., No. 18-280, review granted 1/22/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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