UPDATES IN GUN CONTROL LITIGATION
By: Bob Scirocco
In the City of NY, one can obtain a “premises license,” which allows an individual to possess a firearm only at his or her residence, with very few exceptions. One of these exceptions is to transport the handgun to and from “an authorized small arms range/shooting club” located within the City limits. A number of individuals along with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association challenged the law in that in restricts their ability to travel outside the city limits with their firearm, in violation of the US Constitution. Specifically, the petitioners wanted to utilize shooting ranges and partake in shooting tournaments in other geographic locations within the State.
The District Court granted the request of the City to dismiss the suit as having no merit. An appeal to the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals faired no better. That court simply affirmed the ruling below in favor of the City. Having struck out twice, and having one chance left, the petitioners asked the US Supreme Court to consider the matter. That request was granted.
With five justices on the Supreme Court appointed by Republican US presidents, this did not come as good news to the City of New York. And the City panicked. Its initial response was in effect that “Never mind, we’re revoking the restrictive ordinance. Gun owners can transport their guns outside the city limits after all. Now let’s all agree to dismiss the lawsuit.”
What the City and other liberal groups fear is that a majority of the Supreme Court might
expound upon and clarify 2d Amendment rights in ways that would not make gun control
advocates happy. The ultimate goal of some, as we are well aware, is to abolish the 2d
Amendment in its entirety.
Oral argument was conducted in this case before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC last December. The best question asked by a Justice, in my opinion, came from New Jersey’s own Samuel Alito. In questioning the attorney for the City of New York, the following was asked: Now that the City of New York has abandoned the rule limiting travel to gun ranges exclusively in the City, are the citizens of New York less safe? The City’s attorney gave the only answer he possibly could – no, the citizens are not less safe. Then why have the law to begin with?
That says all you need to know – the original ordinance wasn’t passed to make the city safer, but rather only to harass those who exercise their Second Amendment rights.
We can expect a Supreme Court decision by the end of June, 2020. This should be an easy 5 to 4 decision, with the originalist Justices carrying the day. But Chief Justice Roberts, who presided over President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, remains a Justice who we cannot totally trust. Stay tuned!
In other news… Suit was recently filed in Federal Court to compel New Jersey to recognize the laws of other states that issue a carry licenses and permits. If someone just happens to wander into NJ from another state carrying a handgun that is perfectly legal in the state that he or she resides, that individual can be found guilty of a second degree crime and incarcerated for up to five to ten years for the illegal possession of a firearm.
This new lawsuit was brought by residents of Georgia and Delaware who assert that they avoid traveling to New Jersey because of this very harsh law. They argue in this suit that “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the US Constitution mandates that those who have been issued concealed carry licenses from other states be honored in NJ as well. It is anticipated that this case will take well over a year to work its way through the Federal District Court in New Jersey.
To date, all lawsuits in Federal Court attempting to overturn harsh NJ gun control laws have met with little success.