WASHINGTON (AP) — Several Supreme Court justices appear concerned that a broad ruling in favor of gun rights could threaten restrictions on firearms in subways, bars, stadiums, and other places where people gather. The question before the court has to do with carrying a gun in public for self-defense.
The court is hearing arguments Wednesday in its biggest guns case in more than a decade, a dispute over whether New York’s restrictive gun permit law violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.” The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association—which is headquartered in East Greenbush—and two private citizens are bringing the challenge.
The court’s 6-3 conservative majority gives gun rights advocates hope that the justices will use this case to expand gun rights. But New York and its allies have focused on the prospect of more guns on the streets of New York and Los Angeles if the court strikes down the state law.
Chief Justice John Roberts was among the justices who pressed Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of New York residents who want an unrestricted right to carry concealed weapons in public, on where guns could be prohibited. “What sort of place do you think they could be excluded from? Any place where alcohol is served?” Roberts asked.
Clement replied that while government buildings and schools might be off-limits, bars “might be a tougher case for the government.” But answering questions from Justices Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett, Clement suggested that perhaps bans on guns in the New York City subway, Yankee Stadium, and Times Square on New Year’s Eve might be all right.
New York says if the Supreme Court sides with the challengers to the law it would have “devastating consequences for public safety,” invalidate longstanding laws like New York’s and jeopardize firearm restrictions that states and the federal government have in place where people gather, from airports to schools.
New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, poste a video Wednesday morning defending the state’s gun licensing protection law. Take a look at the video, where she says, in part:
“While communities across the nation continue to suffer senseless gun violence, the burden of protecting Americans from mass shootings falls on states. New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, but guns do not stop working as they cross the threshold of another state’s border, which is why our gun licensing laws are necessary. This year alone, the United States has already seen over 600 mass shootings and more than 37,000 individuals have died as a result of gun violence. We are now in the Supreme Court, defending our right to prevent New York from becoming the next community devastated by gun violence. Hundreds of years of history support New York’s efforts to limit gun violence and protect public spaces. This is about protecting New Yorkers’ lives.”