Once Again, Gun Safety Is on the Line at the Supreme Court
Banking on the solid conservative majority on the bench, the gun lobby seeks to drastically expand concealed carry in public.
As gun violence continues to surge across the country, the gun lobby is attempting to further weaken critical gun safety laws.
On November 3rd, the Supreme Court will hear a case regarding New York State’s permitting requirements for the concealed carry of firearms. If the law is overturned, this will lead to more guns in public—not just in New York, but around the country.
Last week we filed an amicus brief in the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which was initiated by a state affiliate of the NRA. Concealed carry permitting laws have been proven to save lives: violent crime rates are 13–15% higher in states with weak concealed carry permitting laws than in states with stronger permitting laws. No reliable research suggests that expanding unregulated public carry has any public safety benefits.
Yet the NRA and its supporters are urging the Supreme Court to flood our communities—including our schools, churches, parks, and theaters—with guns. By demanding a non-existent Second Amendment “right” to carry lethal weapons wherever and whenever they want, the NRA seeks to ensure that the United States continues to be the only country in the developed world where going to buy groceries is routinely a matter of life or death.
The Second Amendment Right Is Not Unlimited
Our amicus brief pushing back against the NRA’s dangerous and unfounded argument is in good company. A diverse coalition of groups also filed amicus briefs in support of New York’s law, including the ACLU, the American Bar Association, Amnesty International, March For Our Lives, Brady, Everytown, Lambda Legal, the League of Women Voters, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, National Urban League, 152 members of Congress, 18 states, and the District of Columbia.
Our brief reminds the Supreme Court that throughout American history, legislatures have always had the power to restrict or impose conditions on firearms in public. In the brief, we also urge the Justices to remember that preventing the threat of gun violence protects other important interests, like the ability to engage in free speech and religious exercise under the First Amendment.
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We ask the Court to recognize that an unchecked right to carry guns in public will lead to more unjustified killings in alleged “self-defense,” where people shoot first and ask questions later. This unacceptable toll will fall disproportionately on communities of color.
As our brief points out, other legal principles further support the constitutionality of New York’s permitting requirements. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the “core” right protected by the Second Amendment is self-defense in the home. The NRA uses Heller to suggest that because a perceived need for self-defense may at some point appear in public, the Second Amendment prohibits the government from preventing people from carrying guns wherever they see fit.
But our brief shows that self-defense law, which traditionally imposes a stronger obligation to avoid the use of force outside the home, not only endorses a distinction between public and private—it is also far more restrictive than New York’s requirement to show “proper cause” for a concealed carry permit.
Exposing the Gun Lobby’s Dangerous Agenda
Bruen is the most important Second Amendment case in the last decade, and the first that the Supreme Court has heard since the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. It’s clear that the NRA has always intended for this case to end up before the Supreme Court—they brought this lawsuit despite the fact that nine years ago, the Second Circuit upheld this exact law and found it fully consistent with the Constitution.
The only thing that’s changed since is the addition of three Justices, appointed by former President Trump, to the Supreme Court. The NRA thinks that because they bought the politicians who confirmed these Justices, they now own the Supreme Court. Giffords Law Center and our partners in the gun safety movement are doing everything we can to prove them wrong.
In courts across the country, our team continues to fight back against the NRA’s efforts to undermine the safety of our communities. We will never stop working to eradicate the epidemic of gun violence in the United States, and to ensure that Americans can one day live freely, without the fear of getting shot.
JOIN THE FIGHT
Nearly 40,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence every year. In communities, courts, and ballot boxes nationwide, Giffords fights to save lives from gun violence. Will you join us?