Trump Administration and Pro-Gun Heavyweights Support NYSRPA v City of New York

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By NRA-ILA

As NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox reported in March, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up a challenge by an NRA state affiliate to a New York City gun control scheme that effectively prohibits lawfully licensed handgun owners from leaving the city with their own firearms. The plaintiffs in the case have raised a number of objections to the regime, the foremost of which is that it violates the Second Amendment. The case is New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. New York City.

Given the uniquely oppressive and bizarre nature of the challenged restrictions, many observers believe the real question in the case isn’t whether New York City will lose but on what grounds and how badly.

The City itself, in fact, recently made a desperate attempt to avoid a ruling on its laws by claiming to the court that it was in the process of revising the regulations to address the issues raised in the case. The court rejected that gambit, and proceedings in the case have continued, with a number of stakeholders filing friend of the court (amicus curiae) briefs this week to help inform the justices’ deliberations.

Chief among them was none other than the Trump administration, with the Department of Justice (DOJ) filing a brief in support of the plaintiffs. The DOJ offered two possible bases for finding New York City’s regulations unconstitutional, including that the “transport ban infringes the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”

The government’s brief offers the most detailed account to date of how the Trump administration views the Second Amendment. Critically, it makes clear that the Second Amendment does not end at the property line of one’s own home.

“The Second Amendment guarantees both the right to ‘keep’ and the right to ‘bear’ firearms,” the brief states. “Read naturally, the right to ‘bear’ firearms includes the right to transport firearms outside the home; otherwise, the right to ‘bear’ would add nothing to the right to ‘keep.’”

The administration also seeks to establish a method for resolving future cases that is faithful to the Supreme Court’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which has been largely ignored by lower courts. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision being challenged in the New York City case, like many other lower court Second Amendment decisions before it, used a judicial balancing test that Heller specifically rejected to uphold the disputed gun control measures.

The government’s brief, on the other hand, urges the court to “look first to the text of the Second Amendment, the history of the right to keep and bear arms before ratification, and the tradition of gun regulation after ratification” to judge the validity of a gun control law.

Applying this test to New York City’s travel ban, it states:

Few laws in the history of our Nation, or even in contemporary times, have come close to such a sweeping prohibition on the transportation of arms. And on some of the rare occasions in the 19th and 20th centuries when state and local governments have adopted such prohibitions, state courts have struck them down. That is enough to establish that the transport ban is unconstitutional.

Also filing in support of the plaintiffs was a coalition of pro-gun states led by Louisiana and including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgie, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Like the DOJ’s brief, the states’ brief urges the Supreme Court to use text, history, and tradition to find that New York City’s travel ban violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendment.

Alternatively, the states’ brief argues, if the court should adopt the Second Circuit’s approach to applying a tiered level of scrutiny, it should subject the law to a rigorously applied heighted scrutiny. “New York City could not possibly meet such scrutiny here,” the brief concludes.

One hundred and twenty pro-gun members of Congress, led by Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), urged the court to rule in favor of the plaintiffs as well. Emphasizing that “[t]he Second Amendment enshrines the fundamental right of citizens to protect themselves from violence and tyranny,” the congressional brief joined the chorus criticizing the dismissive treatment the Second Amendment has received in the lower courts.

“This case,” according to that brief, “is a quintessential example of how courts of appeals have treated the right to keep and bear arms as a second-class right by not reviewing regulations infringing on the right with any meaningful scrutiny.” It then argues that whether the court applies text, history, or tradition or a suitably stringent level of scrutiny, the challenged New York City regime must fail.

The NRA weighed in on the case with an amicus brief of our own. That brief amplifies the arguments of the government, the states, and the pro-gun members of Congress. It points out that “[i[n the decade since [Heller] was handed down, most lower federal courts have openly flouted [the Supreme Court’s] instructions” on how to resolve Second Amendment cases.

It goes on to state that “because Respondents’ transport ban restricts both the right to keep and to bear arms, and because it is unsupported by any even remotely analogous restriction historically accepted by the People as consistent with the Second Amendment, this Court should strike it down categorically, like in Heller, without resorting to the interest-balancing ‘tiers of scrutiny.’”

Tellingly, even certain well-known gun control groups – including the Giffords Law Center and the Brady Campaign – filed briefs that made no attempt to argue that New York City’s travel ban survives Second Amendment scrutiny. Rather, their briefs merely urge the court to rule narrowly in the case and in a way that preserves ample leeway for states and localities to continue to regulate firearms.

This case illustrates what the legacy media and other anti-gun interests are hoping gun owners ignore; that the election of President Trump, his appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the work of the National Rifle Association all continue to play a vital role in preserving the right to keep and bear arms.

comments

  1. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    “Rather, their briefs merely urge the court to rule narrowly in the case and in a way that preserves ample leeway for states and localities to continue to regulate firearms.”

    Or, rather, if they’re going to be such weasels with any apparent wiggle-room, rule broadly, explicitly, and crisply. “In common use.” “Parity at arms.” & strict scrutiny to consider any erosion of a citizen’s fundamental right to protect their own existence. (Even if choosing to do so might create “tension” with the EU.)

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      DOJ wasn’t arguing for much broader scope of the right; their brief states gun owners shouldn’t be restricted to a single residence or range. Must be a real drag for those NYers with second houses & multiple country club memberships, lol.

      1. avatar yitz says:

        There are more 2A supporters in NY than you think, especially among traditional/orthodox Jews here in Brooklyn. We vote Red, live conservatively and love and exercise our 2A.

        And yes, living in congested Bklyn, those if us who are blessed to be able to do so purchase 2nd homes upstate to get out of the city when we can…and to have it stocked and ready when we NEED to get out.

      2. avatar Donttreadonme says:

        It’s really a shame that gun owners that were blessed to grow up in freer states are so quick to disparage there gun owner brethren in other states just because the majority of the state is controlled by the left.

        You should be ashamed of yourself for such behavior, as you are just as much a part of the problem as the left. So-called gun owners that only care about what goes on in their own little world and pertains only to the guns that they enjoy are actually worse than the left.

        New York state has close to 20 million people, 10 million live in the city, and Rural Upstate New York is more rural than some places in the Midwest. There are over a million gun owners in New York state, and most gun owners in this state are extremely passionate about the Second Amendment.

        And not just that, but this case has the possibility of forcing lower courts to stop using intermediate scrutiny on 2nd Amendment cases which is a tool that activist judges use to restrict the right. Keep in mind, the cancer that is the anti-gun movement spreads and grows and if you leave it to grow in another state it will eventually spread to your own.

        Join the fight to defend our rights. I personally spend a lot of time fighting for the Second Amendment in my local area, on the state level, on the federal level and have donated money to gun rights groups in other states and political campaigns in other states where gun rights are on the line. Don’t be so small-minded.

  2. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    Say what you will about Donald Trump, but I doubt John Ellis Bush would be going to bat for NYC firearms owners.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      I mean, he technically *has* done a hell of a lot more for gun owners than Trump ever has, specifically when it comes to carry law…but don’t let that fact get in the way of your feelings. That said, the Bush family has done a huge portion of the anti-gun damage at the federal level that we suffer today. For the record, JEB was also on-board with bump stock bans, red flag laws, and all the other stuff Trump’s supported since being elected, so to claim one is significantly better than the other on this issue is a bit absurd. We need someone better than either of them if we’re to make any headway, the question is whether gun owning voters think they deserve better than they’ve gotten.

    2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Please clap !

      1. avatar Cory C. says:

        Hahahaha. Nailed it.

  3. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Has any other administration republican or democrat supported in writing 2A civil rights this way?

    I look forward to hearing white Liberals support the idea that blacks can’t carry a gun and travel wherever they please. Because that is exactly what the supreme Court said in the Dred Scott vs Maria Sandford case.

    1. avatar Cory C. says:

      They sure love to lean on the Cruikshank case, which is about as blatantly racist as is Dred Scott.

      1. avatar 300BlackoutFan says:

        The Dred Scott decision was certainly racist, and the majority opinion made no bones about that. However, there is one line from the majority opinion that should, IMNSHO, be used by “originalists”, including Kavanaugh, when coming up with a ruling on NYSRPA v City of NY:

        It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

        1. avatar annon says:

          Well that’s something, isn’t it? I doubt the SCOTUS will use anything from Dred Scott as precedent, even though Dred Scott is still technically a legal precedent. The left would lose it’s mind more than it currently is, and you can guarantee impeachment hearings for the justices would begin.

        2. avatar The Huscarl says:

          Dear God, let this be in Thomas’s opinion.

  4. avatar Southerner says:

    The amicus brief, submitted by the Trump aministration, appears to give a passing nod to “the right to bear arms,” then transmutes “bear” to mean only secure transport. Suggesting the Second Amendment only protects transport in a manner that virtually prohibits any meaningful access for the core right of self defense.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      sounds like they’re going for an easy win…so…we’re supposed to be impressed?….

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        Sounds more like they’re hoping for a minimal loss for the anti-gun side, while trying to look pro-gun, and hoping we’ll be happy with it…

    2. avatar Roger J says:

      I don’t know how the statute has been changed in Illinois since concealed carry. The UUW law while transporting in the car stated the weapon could not be ‘readily accessible’. Very vague and open to interpretation.

      1. avatar The Huscarl says:

        Well, it has definitely changed. The first time I crossed Illinois, I called their State Police to advise me on how transporting firearms through the state would work. They told me (and I recommend you call them and get this directly from the horse’s mouth) that, so long as I was within my vehicle, my state’s laws ruled. Which means I got to cross the state with my sidearm in a shoulder rig on my body. It was nice. Just don’t stop for gas or get a flat tire because then you’re under Illinois jurisdiction.

  5. avatar cgray says:

    Texas is listed as a “pro-gun” state.

    LOL

    1. avatar edward kenway's ghost says:

      In my opinion, Texas is better, comparatively speaking, than where I live as a furtive refugee and unprosecuted future criminal here in New Jersey. NJ is a state governed by Phil Murphy and has the highest density per square mile of moral degenerates and ProgTards outside of the big cities.
      Texas is somewhere I’d actually consider relocating to should the opportunity presents itself.

      1. avatar cgray says:

        The “Republican” speaker of the house, Dennis Bonnen, will regard you as a “criminal” for merely being a gun owner. Oh, and if you went to a psychiatrist, for a single visit, when you were 19, you’ll be banned for life from getting a carry permit. This is Texas, a fucking leftist paradise.

  6. avatar Mack The Knife says:

    That’s nice. I’ll plan my celebration or wake by the final outcome. So far, the excitement I have had for the 2A with this administration and SCOTUS has been proof in the pudding. Abysmal!
    We’ll see. Enjoy them while you have them.

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