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Supreme Court looks set to EXPAND Second Amendment rights, could strike down NY concealed carry law


The Supreme Court is likely to expand gun rights in New York after several justices expressed concern over the state’s high bar requiring ‘proper cause’ to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Gun rights advocates presented their arguments Wednesday to the nation’s highest court, which hasn’t taken up a Second Amendment case in more than a decade, challenging the state’s law. 

The hearing revealed a push for a solution to balance gun rights and public safety.

Justices John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh expressed concern over the state’s high bar requiring ‘proper cause’ to obtain a concealed carry permit.

‘Why isn’t it good enough to say I live in a violent area and I want to defend myself?’ Justice Kavanaugh asked.

Roberts raised concern over the current language of the law that requires proof of threat in rural areas, as they are also public places.

‘How many muggings take place in a forest?’ he said.

Several Supreme Court justices have indicated they are opposed to New York state’s restrictive law that limits carrying concealed handguns in public 

Under the current rules, the state can use its discretion when evaluating a person’s reason for applying for a permit. 

For example, a person claiming to feel unsafe but failing to provide detail of a specific danger or threat would likely be denied. 

Justice Alito also wondered why only ‘celebrities, state judges and retired police officers’ should be able to carry concealed guns, and not ordinary citizens. 

‘How is that consistent with the core right to self-defense?’ he asked. 

Meanwhile, New York Solicitor Barbara Underwood emphasized the need to regulate concealed guns to promote public safety, saying that allowing a proliferation of firearms in New York City’s subway system ‘terrifies a great many people.’

Alito pointed out that there already are people illegally carrying guns on subways and streets. 

‘But the ordinary hard-working, law-abiding people … they can’t be armed?’ he asked.

Several justices, including John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, expressed concern over the state's high bar required to obtain a permit

Several justices, including John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, expressed concern over the state’s high bar required to obtain a permit

The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, involves an appeal by two gun owners and the local affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA) after they lost a challenge to state law that requires ‘proper cause’ for carrying concealed weapons. 

But as well as the Second Amendment, attorneys on both sides cited a 700-year-old English law and its influence on the framing of the U.S. Constitution.   

And the result – expected by the end of June – could have implications for firearms restrictions across the country.

A ruling invalidating the current law could prompt legal questions surrounding how and when local governments can regulate firearms in sensitive places.

Liberal and conservative justices challenged Paul Clement, representing the challengers, on where guns might be off limits in that scenario, including government buildings, public transit, sports stadiums, schools, university campuses, sites of protests and drinking establishments.

Clement said prohibitions at government buildings and schools probably would pass muster but others would need a case-by-case examination.

Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett said states throughout history have outlawed guns in sensitive places.

‘Can’t we just say Times Square on New Year’s Eve is a sensitive place because … people are on top of each other – we’ve had experience with violence, so we’re making a judgment, it’s a sensitive place?’ Barrett asked Clement, referring to the packed annual celebration.

The court last issued major rulings on gun rights in 2008 and 2010.   

Those affirmed the right of Americans to keep guns at home for self-defense but offered no guidance on what happens when they are carried into public spaces. 

The Supreme Court will hear arguments about New York's concealed carry gun laws that could have implications for firearms laws across the country

The Supreme Court will hear arguments about New York’s concealed carry gun laws that could have implications for firearms laws across the country

The case involves an appeal by two gun owners and a ocal affiliate of the National Rifle Association as they fight a law that requires 'proper cause' for carrying concealed weapons

The case involves an appeal by two gun owners and a ocal affiliate of the National Rifle Association as they fight a law that requires ‘proper cause’ for carrying concealed weapons

New York is one of six states that includes such a provision in its gun laws.

It says losing the case would have ‘devastating consequences for public safety,’ making it harder to protect public spaces.

The Biden administration, which is also urging the justices to uphold New York’s law, says California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws that could be affected by a ruling from the court. 

Both sides have been digging into history to support their case.

Gun advocates, in statements filed to the court, argue that the framers of the Constitution deliberately broadened gun rights, beginning with the Statute of Northampton from 1328, which regulated the carrying of ‘arms’ in public places such as fairs or markets.

They say the statute shows a long tradition of regulating the carrying of arms in public places and restricts only when to do so might cause public terror.

‘The reason why we’re digging around in the reign of King Edward III is because the court has said you know the scope of the right by reference to the history that surrounds it,’ Darrell Miller, co-director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University told USA Today

‘That is turning every constitutional scholar into an antiquarian.’

But New York has used the Northampton Statute to argue that restrictions have existed since medieval England to the present day. 

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is backing the challenge,  arguing that the Second Amendment protects the right of Americans not just to 'keep' arms but to 'bear' arms too

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is backing the challenge,  arguing that the Second Amendment protects the right of Americans not just to ‘keep’ arms but to ‘bear’ arms too

Ted Cruz and 24 other senators have also weighed in with an analysis of the Second Amendment.

‘The right is not merely to ‘keep’ arms, but to ‘bear’ them as well,’ they wrote.   

The case was triggered when a lower court rejected arguments by gun owners Robert Nash and Brandon Koch that they be allowed unrestricted concealed-carry licences.

They were then joined by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. 

They argued that the right to self-defense matters most outside the home because that is where the chance of confrontation is highest. 

They are backed by a group of 26 state attorneys general, who say the ‘proper cause’ test is too vague. 

‘Due to the subjective nature of New York’s ‘proper cause’ test and officials requiring citizens to document future danger (including past violence where the same regime prohibited their right to self-defense), the regime fails muster under any level of scrutiny,’ they wrote to the court. 



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