Supreme Court Debating Whether to Hear Case on Public Guns

by | April 16, 2013 7:02 pm

NewLetters[1]As Congress prepares to tackle gun control in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, the Supreme Court is also deciding whether or not to have its say on the issue.

Gun rights advocates are trying to get the Supreme Court to hear their challenge against a New York state law that essentially bans carrying guns in public[2]. Under the law, the state can deny concealed carry permits to users unless they can show “special need for self-protection.”

Recent Supreme Court gun control cases have gone in favor of gun rights supporters, and they are hoping this trend will continue. In 2008, a 5-4 decision by the court ruled that Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns was unconstitutional. In the majority decision, Justice Antonin Scalia said the Second Amendment created a “right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

Emboldened by this ruling, gun rights advocates filed lawsuits against laws in several states that had “proper cause” or “good cause” restrictions on gun permits. In Illinois, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago struck down Illinois’ gun control law, which basically barred everyone but police officers and security guards from carrying guns in public.

In New York, however, a similar law was upheld by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. They said neither evidence of “good moral character” nor living or working in “high-crime areas” was enough to fit the law’s “special need” clause.

The confusion that exists between these two cases may very well need to be hashed out by the Supreme Court, who will decide on Monday whether or not to hear the New York case’s appeal. If it is heard, there is a very good chance gun rights supporters will wind up celebrating another victory. The attorney who filed the appeal, Alan Gura, also spearheaded the successful challenges in D.C. and Illinois.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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