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U.S. Supreme Court set to take up New York gun case this fall

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2021 | Criminal Defense

With all of the consequential decisions rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court lately under their so-called “shadow docket,” it can be easy to forget that the high court is not officially back in session until October. Not long after the court returns for the fall session, it’s scheduled to hear a significant Second Amendment case that involves New Yorkers’ right to carry concealed weapons – specifically handguns – when they’re in public.

Our state has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. One such law, which dates back a century, requires applicants for a concealed-carry license to show “proper cause.”

What’s the case about?

The case that the justices will hear on Nov. 3 began with a 2018 lawsuit brought by two men whose applications to carry guns for self-defense purposes in public were denied. According to the licensing officer, the denial occurred because they “did not demonstrate a special need for self-defense that distinguished [them] from the general public.” The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association joined the suit on behalf of the men.

A federal judge ruled that the decision was valid and stated that the men “do not satisfy the ‘proper cause’ requirement because they do not ‘face any special or unique danger to [their] life.’” A federal appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision.

The NRA is backing the plaintiffs

In the petition asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, the plaintiffs asserted that the appellate ruling essentially said that “the state may fundamentally and individually dictate which people (if any) may exercise that [Second Amendment] right. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is backing the plaintiffs. 

The nine members currently on the Supreme Court haven’t made a substantive ruling on a Second Amendment case so far. However, given the conservative majority on the court, gun rights advocates have some optimism about how they’ll rule on this one.

In the meantime, New Yorkers are required to abide by the law in question. If you’re facing weapons-related charges, it’s crucial to seek experienced legal guidance because the penalties can be serious.