The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, with support from NRA, filed the opening brief in the first firearm-related Second Amendment case the U.S. Supreme Court has opted to hear in more than a decade.
The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, challenges New York’s onerous concealed-carry restrictions. Specifically, it deals with the Empire State’s requirement that New Yorkers demonstrate “proper cause” to exercise the rights protected under the Second Amendment.
This barrier is a subjective one that allows officials to arbitrarily deny people their constitutional right to bear arms (licensed concealed carry is the only legal way for New Yorkers to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense).
In its brief, the NYSRPA put it this way:
New York’s regime is irreconcilable with the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment. The textual inquiry is not a close question, as the text guarantees a right to “bear” arms as well as “keep” them, and a right to bear arms only within the confines of a home offends both common sense and original public meaning. The historical inquiry is no closer, and has already been answered in Heller. Founding-era cases, commentaries, and laws on both sides of the Atlantic, most of which were surveyed in Heller, confirm that the founding generation understood the Second Amendment and its English predecessor to guarantee a right to carry common arms for self-defense.
New York is one of eight “may-issue” states, meaning licensing officials have the authority to deny this constitutional right to anyone they choose for virtually any reason that occurs to them. “Shall-issue” states, in contrast, apply the law by only denying individuals that have something in their history from a specific list of disqualifiers that the law identifies as justifying a prohibition from being issued a permit to lawfully carry a firearm. Constitutional-carry states also deny prohibited persons from owning or carrying firearms—they just don’t make law-abiding citizens pay fees and fill out paperwork before they utilize their rights.
Given this situation, NRA-ILA explained that “[f]or too long, New York has rationed the right to keep and bear arms to a select, chosen few within favored classes. But the Second Amendment guarantees the ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms,’ not the right of a privileged few.”
Prior to this case, the U.S. Supreme Court passed on taking many Second Amendment cases, including 10 cases it declined to hear just last year. The last Second Amendment cases that dealt specifically with firearms the Court heard were the landmark decisions McDonald v. Chicago (2010) and District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).
This is a case the anti-gun Left wanted to avoid because New York, and other states and jurisdictions that treat this constitutional right as if it is just a legal privilege, are clearly infringing upon a right that’s specifically protected by the U.S. Bill of Rights.
Indeed, the NYSRPA brief cites Heller to make this very point:
Because text, history, and tradition confirm that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry common arms like handguns for self-defense, the state cannot flatly prohibit law-abiding citizens like petitioners from exercising that right. That was the lesson of Heller. Indeed, Heller likened the District of Columbia’s unconstitutional ban on possessing handguns inside the home to “severe restrictions” on carrying common arms outside the home. Like the District’s regime in Heller, New York’s regime effectively criminalizes the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right. Just as the District’s extreme regime could not survive any meaningful form of scrutiny, neither can New York’s effort to let only the few exercise a right that the Constitution secures to all.
We’ll keep you posted on new developments with this case and on other important Second Amendment topics.