Supreme Court Keeps New York City Gun Case on Argument Calendar

Greg Stohr

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court said it will keep a Second Amendment showdown on its argument calendar, even after New York City loosened the gun-transportation restrictions at the center of the fight.

The justices rejected the city’s request to dismiss a challenge to the rules as moot, though the court said in a two-sentence order that it will revisit the issue during arguments, scheduled for Dec. 2. The rebuff is at least a temporary win for gun-rights advocates hoping the court will use the case to bolster the constitutional right to bear arms.

The argument will be the court’s first in a decade over the reach of the Second Amendment. The court agreed in January to hear the case.

Three New York City handgun owners and an advocacy group are fighting what they say are the most extreme firearm-transportation restrictions in the country.

Under the original New York City rules, people with a licensed handgun at home were allowed to take it to one of seven shooting ranges in the city but almost nowhere else. Weapons had to be locked and unloaded during travel, and ammunition had to be put in a separate container.

The residents who sued said the rules undercut their constitutional right to have a handgun in a house or apartment for self-protection. They said they wanted to be able to take their handguns to more convenient target ranges outside the city and, in the case of a Staten Island man, to his second home.

Revised Regulations

The city said those things are now permissible after changes to its regulations and a related state law. The city said the revisions left the Supreme Court with nothing left to decide.

“An intervening change in law entitling plaintiffs to everything they seek is a classic event that renders litigation moot,” the city argued.

The residents said even the revised regulations are too strict, forbidding a handgun owner from stopping on the way out of town, requiring written permission to take a weapon to a gunsmith, and precluding transport to a summer rental house. They urged the Supreme Court not to reward New York’s “undisguised effort to avoid a precedent-setting loss.”

The court hasn’t heard a Second Amendment case since it threw out a Chicago handgun ban in 2010. That followed a 2008 decision that for the first time said the Constitution protects individual gun rights.

A federal appeals court in New York upheld the restrictions, saying New Yorkers could go to local shooting ranges, use rented weapons at out-of-town facilities, and acquire additional weapons for second homes.

Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, is a donor to groups that support gun control, including Everytown for Gun Safety.

The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York, 18-280.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo, Ros Krasny

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