Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Supreme Court Says No to NYC’s Second Amendment–Avoidance Scheme 

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to buy into New York City’s transparent scheme to avoid the Court’s review, and wisely denied the city’s request to indefinitely put a hold on NY State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York. It’s the Supreme Court’s first true Second Amendment case since 2010.

For years, residents of New York have been required to apply for a “premises license” to own a handgun. Worse, city officials place a number of restrictions on what a resident can do with a firearm possessed pursuant to such a license. Most egregiously, license-holders may not transport their handguns outside of city limits, even to another home owned by the resident or to a licensed shooting range or competition.

Six years ago, NY State Rifle & Pistol filed this lawsuit. And for six years, New York has fervently defended its rule, maintaining it is necessary for “public safety.” That is, until the Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of the regulation.

Seeing the writing on the wall, New York officials decided to propose a new regulation to delay the case. Unsurprisingly, the proposed changes — and they are merely proposed changes — go directly to the heart of the lawsuit, providing exceptions to handgun owners for transporting their guns to vacation homes, shooting ranges, or shooting competitions outside city limits.

The Supreme Court saw through New York’s scheme. The Court denied the state’s request to delay briefing until New York resolved its rulemaking process. As a result, briefing will go forward on the first true Second Amendment case since McDonald v. Chicago.

Keep your eyes open for New York State Rifle & Pistol’s opening brief on May 7, and amicus briefs in support on May 14.

Cody J. Wisniewski is an attorney with Mountain States Legal Foundation. He primarily focuses on Second Amendment issues, and is the co-author of Amicus Curiae briefs in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York and Pena v. Horan.

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