Biden administration urges Supreme Court to uphold New York’s handgun restriction

Second Amendment

The Biden administration on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to uphold a New York handgun restriction in an upcoming and potentially landmark Second Amendment court clash.

The Department of Justice, in a brief filed on behalf of the administration, argued that the justices should defer to the longstanding legislative practice of placing limits on firearms to protect public safety. 

“Congress has disarmed felons and others who may be dangerous or irresponsible. It has forbidden the carrying of arms in sensitive places, such as courthouses and school zones. … All those regulations pass constitutional muster,” the government’s brief states. “New York’s proper-cause requirement is likewise constitutional.”

At issue is whether New York’s gun licensing policy violates the constitutional right to bear arms by requiring applicants to demonstrate “proper cause” in order to obtain a license to carry a handgun outside the home. 

The lawsuit arose after a New York licensing official denied a bid by two residents for unrestricted carry licenses, saying the applicants had established proper cause for things like target shooting and hunting, but not to carry handguns at all times.

The legal challenge is being backed by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association. 

The lower courts rejected the challengers’ claim that New York’s regulation runs afoul of the Second Amendment, prompting their appeal to the Supreme Court. 

The case has drawn considerable outside interest, both from firearms advocates who want to see the justices use the case to expand gun rights, to states and gun control groups who warn that public safety could be imperiled if regulatory authority is rolled back.

Arguments in the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, are slated for Nov. 3. 

Updated at 5:58 p.m.

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