Supreme Court to hear New York case on carrying handguns in public

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The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal in a New York case over the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

The Second Amendment case involving the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association marks the high court’s first foray into gun rights since Justice Amy Coney Barrett came on board in October, making a 6-3 conservative majority.

Following recent mass shootings in Indiana, Georgia, Colorado and California, the justices said they will review a lower-court ruling that upheld New York’s strict gun permit law.  

The court had turned down a review of the issue in June, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, and is expected to hear the case in the fall.

New York is among eight states that limit who has the right to carry a firearm in public. The others are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

In the rest of the country, gun owners have little trouble legally packing heat when they go out.

Paul Clement, who is representing challengers to the Empire State’s permit law, said the court should use the case to finally settle the matter.

“Thus, the nation is split, with the Second Amendment alive and well in the vast middle of the nation, and those same rights disregarded near the coasts,” Clement wrote on behalf of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and two residents.

The state called on the court to reject the appeal, saying its law promotes public safety and crime reduction — and neither bans people from carrying firearms nor allows everyone to do so.

Federal courts have largely upheld the permit limits.

Last month, a panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco rejected a challenge to Hawaii’s permit regulations in an opinion written by conservative Judge Jay Bybee.

“Our review of more than 700 years of English and American legal history reveals a strong theme: government has the power to regulate arms in the public square,” Bybee wrote in a 7-4 decision for the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2008 and 2010 decisions, the Supreme Court established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.

In June, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, complained that rather than take on the constitutional issue, “the Court simply looks the other way.”

When she was a judge on the federal appeals court in Chicago in 2019, Barrett wrote a dissent that argued that a conviction for a nonviolent felony — mail fraud in that case — shouldn’t automatically disqualify someone from owning a gun.

Barrett, who has a more expansive view of gun rights than Ginsburg did, said her colleagues in the majority were treating the Second Amendment as a “second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.”

With Post Wires

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