Supreme Court could issue first major gun ruling in years as arguments begin in case involving New York law that requires ‘proper cause’ for carrying concealed weapons
- Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday over New York gun law
- It prohibits people from carrying concealed weapons without ‘proper cause’
- A ruling could have profound impacts for gun laws across the country
- Both sides are appealing to a 700-year-old English law, the Northampton Statute
- It regulated the carrying of ‘arms’ in public places such as fairs or markets
The Supreme Court, which has not issued a major Second Amendment ruling in years, will hear a case on Wednesday that challenges a New York law that limits carrying concealed handguns in public.
It involves an appeal by two gun owners and the local affiliate of the National Rifle Association after they lost a challenge to state law that requires ‘proper cause’ for carrying concealed weapons.
But as well as the Second Amendment, attorneys on both sides are expected to cite a 700-year-old English law and its influence on the framing of the U.S. Constitution.
And the result – expected by the end of June – could have implications for firearms restrictions across the country.
The court last issued major rulings on gun rights in 2008 and 2010.
Those affirmed the right of Americans to keep guns at home for self-defense but offered no guidance on what happens when they are carried into public spaces.
At issue is a New York law dating to 2013.
Anyone who wants to carry a concealed handgun in public has to demonstrate ‘proper cause’ – or explain why they need to carry a weapon – in order to get a licence.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments about New York’s concealed carry gun laws that could have implications for firearms laws across the country
The case involves an appeal by two gun owners and a ocal affiliate of the National Rifle Association as they fight a law that requires ‘proper cause’ for carrying concealed weapons
The law’s challengers will hope that the court’s 6-3 conservative majority will side with them in upholding their right to carry concealed guns without having to show ‘proper cause’
It is one of six states that includes such a provision in its gun laws.
New York says losing the case would have ‘devastating consequences for public safety,’ making it harder to protect public spaces.
The Biden administration, which is also urging the justices to uphold New York’s law, says California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws that could be affected by a ruling from the court.
Both sides have been digging into history to support their case.
Gun advocates, in statements filed to the court, argue that the framers of the Constitution deliberately broadened gun rights, beginning with the Statute of Northampton from 1328, which regulated the carrying of ‘arms’ in public places such as fairs or markets.
They say the statute shows a long tradition of regulating the carrying of arms in public places and restricts only when to do so might cause public terror.
‘The reason why we’re digging around in the reign of King Edward III is because the court has said you know the scope of the right by reference to the history that surrounds it,’ Darrell Miller, co-director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University told USA Today.
‘That is turning every constitutional scholar into an antiquarian.’
But New York has used the Northampton Statute to argue that restrictions have existed since medieval England to the present day.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is backing the challenge, arguing that the Second Amendment protects the right of Americans not just to ‘keep’ arms but to ‘bear’ arms too
Ted Cruz and 24 other senators have also weighed in with an analysis of the Second Amendment.
‘The right is not merely to “keep” arms, but to “bear” them as well,’ they wrote.
The case was triggered when a lower court rejected arguments by gun owners Robert Nash and Brandon Koch that they be allowed unrestricted concealed-carry licences.
They were then joined by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
They argued that the right to self-defense matters most outside the home because that is where the chance of confrontation is highest.
They are backed by a group of 26 state attorneys general, who say the ‘proper cause’ test is too vague.
‘Due to the subjective nature of New York’s “proper cause” test and officials requiring citizens to document future danger (including past violence where the same regime prohibited their right to self-defense), the regime fails muster under any level of scrutiny,’ they wrote to the court.
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