High court seems ready to strike down New York gun law

WASHINGTON , The Supreme Court appeared ready to repeal a New York gun permit law. However, the justices seemed concerned about issuing a broad ruling which could lead to gun restrictions on subways bars, stadiums, and other gathering places.

High court seems ready to strike down New York gun law

WASHINGTON , The Supreme Court appeared ready to repeal a New York gun permit law. However, the justices seemed concerned about issuing a broad ruling which could lead to gun restrictions on subways bars, stadiums, and other gathering places.

The court heard arguments in its largest guns case in over a decade. It was a dispute about whether New York's law breaches the Second Amendment right "keep and bear arm."

In 2008 and 2010, Supreme Court rulings established the right for everyone to have a firearm at home in self-defense. The court now has to decide if a person can carry a firearm outside of the home.

Two hours of arguments were held by conservative members of court. They have a majority. Chief Justice John Roberts asked why a person who wants to be able to carry a gun in public defense must show a special need.

He said, "The idea you need a licence to exercise the right is, I believe, unusual in the context of Bill of Rights."

Roberts was also one of the justices that pressed a lawyer to challenge the law on where guns could be banned. He asked if a football stadium and a college campus were off limits. A state could say that you cannot have your gun in any location where alcohol is served.

Paul Clement represented New Yorkers who wanted an unrestricted right of concealed weapons to be carried in public. He said that although restrictions on carrying a weapon in schools and government buildings are likely to be fine, as the court suggested back in 2008, bars on guns in public "might prove more difficult for the government."

Justice Amy Coney Barrett informed Clement that there is a history where states have outlawed guns in "sensitive areas". "People are on top each other...so, we're making an assessment, it's sensitive."

Clement admitted that this might be acceptable. Clement answered other questions and suggested that restrictions on guns in New York City's subway system or Yankee Stadium might be acceptable.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested that the difficult questions regarding guns' prohibition might be left to another day. Clement agreed and said, "We don’t have to answer all of the sensitive places questions we ask in this case. Some of these will be challenging no doubt.

Gun owners in most parts of the country have no problem legally carrying their guns when they go outside. A half dozen states, including California, which is the most populous, have restrictions on gun ownership. These laws are known as "may issue" laws and could be upheld by the justices.

New York's concealed handgun law was in effect since 1913. It states that in order to carry a concealed weapon in public for self defense, one must show "proper cause," a real need for the weapon.

Biden's administration is asking the justices not to overturn New York's law. It says that California, Hawaii and Massachusetts all have similar laws, which could be affected by the court’s decision. These states account for about 25% of the U.S. populace. Brian H. Fletcher, arguing for the federal government, called New York's law "consistent" with the Second Amendment because it is solidly grounded in the nation's history of gun regulations.

Liberal justices at the court seemed to be open to allowing the state law to continue in place. Justice Elena Kagan said it was "completely intuitive" for different states to have different gun laws. It is also easier to obtain a license to carry firearms in self-defense in New York City, than in rural areas of the state. Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated that, based on the history and tradition, the Second Amendment, states have a lot to be respected when it comes to restrictions.

Justice Stephen Breyer wanted to know what type of license law-challengers were seeking. The license is supposed to allow you to carry a concealed weapon on the streets, in the town, or just outside for fun. He said that they were dangerous guns.

However, the conservatives of the court suggested that New York's requirements were too restrictive.

Justice Samuel Alito wanted to know if New York's law would allow someone to obtain a permit to carry a firearm if they arrive late at work and must travel through high-crime areas to reach a bus or subway. Barbara D. Underwood from New York, the State's Solicitor General, stated that the person does not have a specific need for a weapon different to the rest of the public.

Alito asked, "But how does that make sense with the core right of self-defense, which is protected under the Second Amendment?" Alito said that there were many illegal gun-wielding New Yorkers "walking the streets", while ordinary, hardworking, law-abiding citizens could not be arm themselves.

Underwood stated that it is not right to be "armed for all possible confrontations" in any place. She also suggested that New York should limit gun carrying in sensitive areas.

She stated that although it is attractive in principle, it is unlikely to be implemented.

As gun violence continues to rise, the arguments at high court are timely. New York told the justices it was against the law's opponents.

Gun rights groups argue that the danger of confrontation is exactly why they have a right for self-defense. Clement, who is arguing in support of the law's opponents, stated that the nation's founders intended people to make their own decisions regarding carrying a firearm outside their home for self-defense.

He said that "in 43 states people are able do that" and added that "it doesn’t mean that 43 states have more violent crime problems than states like New York."

Updated Date: 05 November 2021, 07:30

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