Supreme Court to take on major gun rights case

Apr 26, 2021, 7:42 AM | Updated: 9:23 am
supreme court gun rights...
A police officer walks outside the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will take on a major gun rights case in the form of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. New York State Police Superintendent Keith Corlett in the court’s next term.

Supreme Court to consider gun rights question

Plaintiffs in the case include a New York gun-rights group and Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, two New York men who tried to obtain a license to carry a firearm in public; they contend their denial on grounds they did not show an “actual and articulable” need to carry violates their Second Amendment rights.

The question originally submitted to the Court by the plaintiffs said the state of New York denies “ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying a handgun outside the home without a license, and it denies licenses to every citizen who fails to convince the state that he or she has ‘proper cause’ to carry a firearm.”

Perhaps the single most important unresolved Second Amendment question after this Court’s landmark decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, is whether the Second Amendment secures the individual right to bear arms for self-defense where confrontations often occur: outside the home.

Precedents at stake

This question over an individual’s right to carry a firearm for self-defense, the plaintiffs said, was previously decided by the court in the cases of District of Columbia v. Heller, and in McDonald v. Chicago. But they contend appeals courts still show divisions on the subject.

In the Heller case, the Supreme Court held that a ban on handguns in DC violated the Second Amendment. With McDonald, the court ruled the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to self-defense applicable to the states. 

Their argument cited those differences in requesting a ruling specifically on this question, to clear up confusion.

“The question presented is: Whether the Second Amendment allows the government to prohibit ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense,” they wrote.

Opposing views

In her brief of opposition, New York Attorney General Letitia James said courts have held that the right to carry firearms in public is not unlimited, and that the law in question has existed in the state since 1913. 

“The law has existed in the same essential form since 1913 and descends from a long Anglo-American tradition of regulating the carrying of firearms in public,” James wrote.

She explained that New York Courts include target practice, hunting and self-defense as possible “proper cause” for a license. Additionally, she added, a licensing officer can stipulate the license only applies to those activities. 

For an unrestricted license, James said lower court rulings indicate the applicant must show “an actual and articulable — rather than merely speculative or specious — need for self defense.” 



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Supreme Court to take on major gun rights case