U.S. Supreme Court Hears Case Involving Constitutionality of New York Gun Permit Laws

In what is likely to be a blockbuster case the U.S. Supreme Court recently,  heard arguments in  a case involving New York gun laws. While the parties in this case were not criminally charged for possession of a gun, they prospectively challenged the New York City law banning the transportation of a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits. The case is important to New York gun crime law because the U.S. Supreme Court may determine that this specific gun law is unconstitutional.  The case may also define the extent of the rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment and the Firearms Owners Protection Act nationwide.

New York City has two types of gun licenses. The first is known as a concealed carry permit, which allows a permit holder to carry a concealed firearm on their person. The second type of license is an “on-premises” license, which allows a permit holder to “have and possess in his dwelling” a pistol or revolver. An on-premises license is specific to a particular residence, and permit holders cannot freely transport a gun. Instead, a limited number of situations are allowed by statute.

One exception allows the permit holder to transport a handgun directly to and from an authorized range or shooting club if it is unloaded and in a locked container. The ammunition must be carried separately. All approved ranges and shooting clubs are located in New York City. Thus, a permit holder cannot transport a gun to a range outside New York City.

The case was filed by three permit holders, each of whom wanted to transport their guns to ranges or competitions outside New York City. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association joined in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs argued that the law violated their Second Amendment rights; however, the trial court rejected the plaintiffs’ case, finding that the New York City rule “merely regulates rather than restricts the right to possess a firearm in the home and is a minimal, or at most, modest burden on the right.”

On appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was affirmed. The plaintiffs then appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. The Court heard arguments on the case on December 2, 2019, and it is expected to issue an opinion sometime before June 2020. The issue raised in the case is important not only for gun rights activists but also for those who are currently facing certain types of New York gun charges.

Have You Been Charged with a Gun Crime?

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