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For 1st Time In 10 Years, Supreme Court Takes Up Major Gun Rights Case

Dec 3, 2019

The Supreme Court heard a case challenging New York state gun laws. It’s the first time the court has heard a gun control case in a decade. We hear what happened.

Guests

David Savage, Supreme Court correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. (@DavidGSavage)

Joseph Blocher, co-director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law. Professor at Duke University School of Law. (@DukeLaw)

From The Reading List

Los Angeles Times: “Supreme Court may punt rather than rule on key gun-rights case” — “The Supreme Court justices sounded uncertain Monday over whether to rule on a major gun-rights case, since New York City has repealed the disputed law at issue that restricted carrying a licensed weapon outside the city.

“The gun owners who sued ‘got everything they asked for,’ New York City’s attorney Richard Dearing told the court.

“The four liberal justices made clear they thought the 2nd Amendment case — New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. vs. City of New York — should be dismissed as moot. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. also questioned what was left of the dispute that launched the case, while new Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh listened but asked no questions during the argument.

“The New York City case has drawn wide attention because the high court has said nothing about the scope of the 2nd Amendment for nearly a decade.”

Washington Post: “The Supreme Court could undo local gun laws — in a case it shouldn’t be hearing” — “Fed by a steady stream of mass shootings and rising public anger about Congress’s inaction, the gun control movement has gained new life. All of the Democratic presidential contenders have put gun policy reform near the top of their platforms, and some lawmakers are considering proposals for buybacks and licensing once thought impossible. Yet the Supreme Court appears ready to douse that momentum — in a case the justices, according to their rules, should not even be hearing at all.

“On Monday, the court will hear a challenge to a now-repealed New York City regulation that limited where New Yorkers could bring their guns. It is the court’s first major Second Amendment case in nearly a decade. With two new justices appointed by President Trump, the court could now make it much harder for lawmakers to stem the tide of gun violence and keep guns off their streets.

“The case arises just as gun control advocates were beginning to make headway on reform. Although people often complain that nothing changed after the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., in truth, the gun debate has been transformed since then by the emergence of a strong, well-financed and politically active movement for gun reform. New advocacy groups such as Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety and Gabrielle Giffords’s super PAC are putting unprecedented resources into electing pro-reform candidates and ballot measures, in some races even outspending the National Rifle Association. March for Our Lives, organized by students from Parkland, Fla., and Moms Demand Action have inspired the grass roots to get more involved than at any time in the past 30 years.”

New York Times: “After Long Gap, Supreme Court Poised to Break Silence on Gun Rights” — “It has been almost 10 years since the Supreme Court last heard a Second Amendment case. On Monday, a transformed court will return to the subject and take stock of what has happened in the meantime.

“The nation has had a spike in gun violence. And lower courts have issued more than 1,000 rulings seeking to apply the justices’ 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which established an individual right to own guns but said almost nothing about the scope of that right.

“The new case concerns a New York City ordinance that limited the transport of guns outside an owner’s home. Fearing a loss in the Supreme Court, to say nothing of a broad ruling from the court’s conservative majority on what the Second Amendment protects, the city repealed the ordinance and now argues that the case is moot. But the court may be ready to end its decade of silence, elaborate on the meaning of the Second Amendment and, in the process, tell lower courts whether they have been faithful to the message of the Heller decision.”

USA Today: “Supreme Court may expand Second Amendment rights despite repeal of disputed gun restrictions” — “The Supreme Court may be on the verge of expanding gun rights for the first time in nearly a decade. What’s surprising is how it got there.

“The court on Monday will hear a challenge to an obscure New York City rule that set such rigid restrictions on transporting legally owned guns that it was repealed in July.

“But it turns out that wasn’t what they really wanted. Backed by the National Rifle Association and the Trump administration, the challengers to New York’s abandoned restrictions are hoping the high court refuses to declare the case moot. That would give them a chance to win the biggest Second Amendment victory since landmark rulings a decade ago affirmed the right to keep guns at home for self-defense.

“Faced with a defunct ban on transporting guns outside city limits, the increasingly conservative court majority could render a decision making clear what some justices believe: that the Second Amendment extends beyond the home, and that lower courts should view state and local limits on carrying guns in public with skepticism.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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