NY Angers Second Amendment Advocates by Attempting to Change Gun Law Ahead of SCOTUS Review

Gun rights advocates are up in arms over New York City legislators’ recent move to weaken a law restricting the rights of gun owners. The decision to loosen the law is reportedly part of the legislature’s larger plan to derail a Second Amendment challenge to a regulation that the Supreme Court agreed to hear in January, according to the New York Times.

As it currently stands, New York City law permits residents with “premise licenses” to carry their guns to any of the city’s seven shooting ranges, but prohibits those same premise licensees from taking their guns to shooting ranges located outside of city limits or to their second homes. Such transportation is prohibited regardless of whether or not a licensee’s guns are unloaded and kept in a locked container away from ammunition prior to transport.

While the regulation had previously been upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in February, the city likely feared that the Supreme Court’s newly cemented conservative majority would be a much more critical arbiter of the constitutionality of restrictions on the Second Amendment.

Fearing that a Supreme Court decision against the city’s new regulation could threaten a multitude of gun control laws across the country, legislators decided to preemptively change the law before it could be heard by the high court.

The furtive legislative maneuver was not overlooked by Second Amendment advocates, some of whom voiced their opinions during the public commenting period mandated before any regulatory change could be affected.

“This law should not be changed. Not because it is a good law; it is blatantly unconstitutional. No, it should not be changed since this is a clear tactic to try to moot the Scotus [sic] case that is specifically looking into this law,” one commenter said. Others have argued along the same lines.

The Trump Administration has already made its thoughts on NYC’s gun law quite clear.

The proposed changes, which would take effect in approximately one month, would remove the restrictions prohibiting premise licensees from bring their firearms to second homes or gun ranges outside the city. Regardless of the impending changes, the law is still in the hands of the Supreme Court. The justices already declined the city’s request to have the filing of briefs in the case suspended until the regulatory amendments were fully implemented.

As the Times noted, the high court’s 2012 decision in Knox v. Service Employees International Union held that a government’s “voluntary cessation” of a policy does not make challenges to that policy moot where the government remains free to reinstate them after dismissal of the case.

[image via ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images]

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.

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