The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) filed a new brief in their lawsuit against New York City’s handgun laws. The case has gathered rapt attention and has the potential for a decision as sweeping as DC v. Heller more than a decade ago. This brief, filed late in the day on Tuesday, May 7th, concerns the merits of the case. Those who have been following the developments in the lawsuit carefully will find little new information contained in the filing. However, for those of us following the case closely, it’s fascinating reading.
The Facts of the Case
As I have mentioned in previous articles, and as many readers already are keenly aware of, New York has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. New York City handgun licenses (separate from New York State licenses) are exclusively “premises-only,” and flatly forbid citizens from concealed-carry. The City bans handgun license holders from transporting their firearms except to one of the 7 ranges within city limits. Talking a legally owned handgun to a range outside the city or a second home or place of business is flatly illegal.
NYSRPA has sued the city, and after defeating a weaselly attempt by New York to get the case dismissed by talking about maybe in the future possibly changing the law, the case is continuing apace. This most recent filing is the last that NYSRPA will file before New York must file it’s own. The date for that filing is August 5th.
The biggest and most important question presented in the filing is secondary to the case itself. The case has significantly broadened from its original basis. While the first filing with lower courts only sought to see the restrictive NYC law overturned, the filing asks the Supreme Court to apply Strict Scrutiny to all Second Amendment cases. As the filing puts it
[T]his Court should clarify that strict scrutiny applies and that the various stratagems the Second Circuit employed to dilute the right are fundamentally incompatible with the proper analysis of government infringements of a fundamental right
If the court decides in favor of NYSRPA and determines that all gun laws should be subject to Strict Scrutiny, what does that mean? Put simply, it means all gun laws would be unconstitutional until they pass this test in court. Strict Scrutiny is a 3-part test. Firstly, does the law serve a compelling governmental interest? Secondly, is the law narrowly tailored? Thirdly, is it the least restrictive means of achieving that interest?
I look forward to seeing where this case goes, and if possible I’m planning on viewing the oral arguments myself.