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U.S. Supreme Court takes major case on carrying concealed handguns

PoliticsApr 26, 2021 05:25PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Seized handguns are pictured at the police headquarters in New York City

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court stepped back into the heated debate over gun rights on Monday, agreeing to hear a challenge backed by the National Rifle Association to New York state's restrictions on people carrying concealed handguns in public in a case that could further undermine firearms control efforts nationally.

The justices took up an appeal by two gun owners and the New York affiliate of the NRA, an influential gun rights group closely aligned with Republicans, of a lower court ruling throwing out their challenge to the restrictions on concealed handguns outside the home.

Lower courts rejected the argument made by the plaintiffs that the restrictions violated the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The lawsuit seeks an unfettered right to carry concealed handguns in public.

The case could lead to the most consequential ruling on the Second Amendment's scope in more than a decade. The court's 6-3 conservative majority is seen as sympathetic to an expansive view of Second Amendment rights.

Gun control advocates are concerned that the conservative justices could create a standard for gun control that could imperil existing policies at the state level including expanded criminal background checks for gun buyers and "red flag" laws targeting the firearms of people deemed dangerous by the courts.

A state firearms licensing officer had granted the two gun owners "concealed carry" permits but restricted them to hunting and target practice, prompting the legal challenge.

The U.S. debate over gun control has intensified following a spate of recent mass shootings. A day after an April 15 shooting in Indianapolis in which a gunman killed eight employees at a FedEx (NYSE:FDX) facility and then himself, President Joe Biden called U.S. gun violence a "national embarrassment."

Biden, a long-time gun control advocate, has taken some steps to tighten federal firearms regulations. But major policy changes would require congressional passage. Senate Republicans stand in the way of Democratic-backed gun control measures already passed in the House of Representatives.

The New York case centers on a state law that requires a showing of "proper cause" for carrying concealed handguns. Under it, residents may obtain licenses restricted to hunting and target practice, or if they hold jobs such as a bank messenger or correctional officer.

To carry a concealed handgun without restriction, applicants must convince a firearms licensing officer that they have an actual, rather than speculative, need for self-defense.

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and two of its members, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, sued in federal court. The men said they do not face any unique danger but want carry a handgun for self-defense.

'RIGHT TO DEFEND OURSELVES'

"We're confident that the court will tell New York and the other states that our Second Amendment right to defend ourselves is fundamental, and doesn't vanish when we leave our homes," said Jason Ouimet, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office intends to show that the state's law complies with the Second Amendment, adding, "We will vigorously defend any challenge to New York state's gun laws that are intended to protect public safety."

The Supreme Court in a landmark 2008 ruling recognized for the first time an individual's right to keep guns at home for self-defense, and in 2010 applied that right to the states. The plaintiffs in the New York case asked for that right to be extended beyond the home.

A ruling invalidating New York's law could imperil similar laws in other states setting criteria for a concealed-carry license. Seven other states and the District of Columbia impose restrictions that give authorities more discretion to deny concealed firearm permits.

The justices will hear the case during their next term, which begins in October, with a ruling due by the end of June 2022.

U.S. Supreme Court takes major case on carrying concealed handguns
 

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Comments (7)
Gervais Christopher
Gervais Christopher Apr 26, 2021 10:27PM ET
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"...shall not be infringed."
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Apr 26, 2021 3:38PM ET
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Legal law abiding ppl will carry regardless of the SCOTUS outcome but its a nice gesture of them
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Apr 26, 2021 2:55PM ET
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Legal law abiding citizens have a right to defend themselves with a firearm if need be. lived in NYC for 30 years criminals have no problems accessing hand guns. The tax payer working joe trying to protect his property and family has hand cuffs installed on him by my a liberal philosophy.
juan san
juan san Apr 26, 2021 12:44PM ET
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4 headlines regarding the Supreme Court by Reuters today, all on the frontpage of this investing website. The DNC give marching orders to push Supreme Court propaganda on the sheep because they want to pack the court?
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Apr 26, 2021 12:44PM ET
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Liberals should be somewhat happy over recent Trump SC appointees. I have the court 6-3 liberal asof now. Amy Barret is a closet rino/liberal. Ppl couldn't see through her except those who knew her from religious meetings. Shes a liberal
Ald Wong
Ald Wong Apr 26, 2021 12:25PM ET
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that's the case, might as well for safety is it ok to carry penknife aroundeverywhere in u.s!
ben sc
ben sc Apr 26, 2021 12:22PM ET
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Doesn't matter, red states will not abide by federal overreach. SCOTUS is only taking up the safe cases, Biden may as well pack the court, it's already been neutered thoroughly.
Josh OBarr
Josh OBarr Apr 26, 2021 10:22AM ET
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Gun rights are human rights!
 
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