No matter the approach it takes, the Supreme Court needs to clear up key questions, as ten-plus years have left Americans’ gun rights confused.
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the first gun rights case to reach the high court in more than a decade. The case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen, concerns the constitutionality of New York’s law banning the carrying of handguns outside the home for self-defense, absent a license—something the state will only issue if the applicant establishes a unique need for self-defense.
For an overview of the case, read here. A more in-depth analysis of both the case and the current state of Second Amendment jurisprudence is available here. For six take-aways from the argument, read along.
1. New York Concedes The Second Amendment Secures an Individual’s Right to Bear Arms Outside the Home
When the individual New Yorkers challenging the law, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, along with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, first asked the Supreme Court to hear their appeal, they sought to entice the high court to take the case by stressing how important the underlying constitutional principle at issue is, writing: “Perhaps the single most important unresolved Second Amendment question remaining” after Heller and McDonald established the individual right to bear arms, “is whether the Second Amendment secures the individual right to bear arms for self-defense where confrontations often occur: outside the home.”
Not only was that question unanswered by the Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald, but after Heller and McDonald the lower courts disagreed on the scope of the Second Amendment outside of one’s house.
But last Monday’s argument made the issue a non-issue, with New York conceding the question.
The “history is so clear that New York no longer contests that carrying a handgun outside of the home for purposes of self-defense is constitutionally protected activity,” Paul Clement, the attorney arguing on behalf of the petitioners challenging the state’s restrictive licensing law, stressed during oral argument.
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