Washington, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it would take up a major Second Amendment case challenging New York law that prohibits an individual from carrying a concealed handgun in public.
It will be the first time the nation’s highest court has taken up a gun rights case since it ruled in favor of the plaintiff in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, NBC News reported.
The Supreme Court found in that case that DC law was unconstitutional because the Second Amendment provided an individual the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense.
The latest case challenged New York state law that prohibits residents from concealed carry unless they can demonstrate “a special need for self protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession,” NBC News reported.
Paul Clement, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said New York’s law “makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen” to get a conceal-carry license.
Two of the plaintiffs who joined the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association’s lawsuit said they wanted a concealed handgun to keep themselves safe, NBC News reported.
Robert Nash wanted to carry a gun because there had been a lot of robberies in his neighborhood and Brendan Koch also cited a desire to carry a concealed gun for protection.
The lawsuit said both men completed gun safety courses and applied for permits, and both were turned down, NBC News reported.
Clement said that New York law is so restrictive that it cannot be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s “affirmation of the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”
Federal courts have been split on what the Second Amendment means by the right “to keep and bear arms,” NBC News reported.
In New York, that’s been further aggravated by the attorney general’s assertion that the right is subject to state regulation, even in the case of laws and regulations that infringe on the Second Amendment.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in March upheld a Hawaii law similar to the one under attack in New York, NBC News reported.
The same court that earlier ruled individuals don’t have a right to carry weapons concealed in public just concluded there was also no general right to openly carry weapons in public for self-defense.
The Supreme Court in 2020 dismissed a challenge to a New York City law that prohibited New York City gun owners from transporting their weapons except when going to an approved gun range in the city.
New York City officials scrambled to amend the law before it could be taken up by the Supreme Court, and ended up repealing it.
So the court tossed the case when it got to them, NBC News reported.
But U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they thought the court should have taken up and decided that case and declared the restriction unconstitutional.
Taking it a step further, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he thought the court should be taking up other challenges to gun restrictions and address the larger Second Amendment issue, NBC News reported.
Thomas has repeatedly criticized his colleagues on the Supreme Court for refusing to hear similar Second Amendment cases in the past.
“The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan,” Thomas wrote in one dissent, according to NBC News.
The latest Second Amendment case will be argued before the nation’s highest court during the upcoming fall term.