The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments this week in a number of cases including a challenge to a restrictive concealed carry statute in New York state whose outcome could have implications for several other states with similar laws.
The case centers on whether the law, which dramatically limits who can obtain a concealed carry permit, is a violation of the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms and whether the Constitution provides for the right outside of an individual’s place of residence.
Gun control groups arguing on behalf of the New York law say if the high court strikes it down and with it, essentially, the same laws in other states, there will be more gun violence. But in states that have far less restrictive concealed carry requirements, there has been no evidence tying any spike in gun-related crimes to more liberal concealed carry statutes.
That said, gun rights groups counter that the risk of a confrontation with an armed criminal is exactly why concealed carry laws ought to be loosened.
“The stakes really could not be higher,” Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel at the gun control group Brady, told The Associated Press.
The high court agreed to hear the case, brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, in April.
“The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to the following question: Whether the State’s denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment,” the court announced.
Gun rights groups were thrilled.
“The court rarely takes Second Amendment cases. Now it’s decided to hear one of the most critical Second Amendment issues,” said NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Jason Ouimet in a statement. “We’re confident that the court will tell New York and the other states that our Second Amendment right to defend ourselves is fundamental, and doesn’t vanish when we leave our homes.”
“New York regularly uses this requirement to deny applicants the right to carry a firearm outside of their home. The NRA believes that law-abiding citizens should not be required to prove they are in peril to receive the government’s permission to exercise this constitutionally protected right,” the NRA noted further.
According to the rifle and pistol association, New York’s statutes make it “virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license,” effectively negating the right to bear arms outside of one’s place of residence.
“The time has come for this Court to resolve this critical constitutional impasse and reaffirm the citizens’ fundamental right to carry a handgun for self-defense,” the group noted in its Supreme Court filing.
“Good, even impeccable, moral character plus a simple desire to exercise a fundamental right is not sufficient,” said Paul Clement, the attorney representing the challengers.
“Nor is living or being employed in a high crime area,” added Clement, who is representing Robert Nash, Brandon Koch, and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
“It is hard to overstate how important this case is,” the NRA noted. “The decision will affect the laws in many states that currently restrict carrying a firearm outside of the home.”
The last two major Second Amendment cases the Supreme Court heard were in 2008 and 2010. Those cases essentially established that the right to bear arms inside the home was a guarantee. Gun rights groups, however, have argued that the intent of the amendment was to guarantee the right to bear arms virtually anywhere.
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