NYSRPA v. City of New York: The Supreme Court Must Protect Rights and Public Safety
Update — On April 27, 2020, a majority of the Supreme Court determined that the case is moot, and so did not reach the arguments advanced in Giffords Law Center’s brief.
Case Information: New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. City of New York, No. 18-280 (Supreme Court brief filed May 14, 2019)
At Issue: On January 22, the Supreme Court agreed to review a Second Amendment challenge brought by the New York state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, marking the first time in nearly a decade that the justices will hear argument in a Second Amendment case. The NRA and individual plaintiffs filed suit against a unique New York City gun possession licensing law that restricts the ability of gun owners who do not have concealed carry permits to transport handguns outside their homes or other licensed premises. The challengers, who are seeking to take guns licensed for the home to ranges outside New York City and to second homes in the state, claim these licensing restrictions violate the Second Amendment and other constitutional rights. Going beyond the immediate facts of the case, the challengers also urge the Court to ignore public safety justifications for gun regulations challenged under the Second Amendment, suggesting the Court should recognize a broad right to carry guns whenever desirable for self-defense without regard to the dangers this creates for others.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: We filed an amicus brief in support of neither party in order to oppose the gun lobby’s attempt to use a narrow legal challenge to advance a radical interpretation of the Second Amendment and broadly attack gun safety laws that have repeatedly been found to be constitutional. Since the Supreme Court decided District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, courts have consistently upheld strong firearm regulations, following Heller ‘s instruction that the Second Amendment is “not unlimited” but allows for lifesaving gun safety laws like concealed carry regulations, laws prohibiting dangerous people from accessing guns, and safe storage requirements. Our brief argues that the Supreme Court shouldn’t use this case to disturb Heller ’s endorsement of settled gun safety laws and that if the justices do announce a Second Amendment methodology, the Court should treat the Second Amendment like other constitutional rights and recognize reasonable regulations that further public safety. We also argue that the radical approach suggested by the NRA is unworkable and would threaten critically important laws like those that restrict gun access by domestic abusers.