The Supreme Court is turning to gun rights for the first time in nearly a decade, even though those who brought the case, New York City gun owners, already have won changes to the regulation they challenged.
The justices’ persistence in hearing arguments Monday despite the city’s action has made gun control advocates fearful that the court’s conservative majority could use the case to call into question gun restrictions across the country.
The lawsuit in New York began as a challenge to the city's prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits, either to a shooting range or a second home.
Lower courts upheld the regulation, but the Supreme Court’s decision in January to step into the case signaled a revived interest in gun rights from a court with two new justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both appointees of President Donald Trump.
Officials at both the city and state level scrambled to find a way to remove the case from the justices’ grasp. Not only did the city change its regulation to allow licensed gun owners to transport their weapons to locations outside New York’s five boroughs, but the state enacted a law barring cities from imposing the challenged restrictions.
But those moves failed to get the court to dismiss the case, although the justices are likely to ask at arguments about whether there’s anything left for them to decide.
With files from the Associated Press
Greg Stohr, Supreme Court reporter, Bloomberg News, and author of “A Black and White Case: How Affirmative Action Survived Its Greatest Legal Challenge” (Bloomberg Press, 2006); he tweets @GregStohr
Darrell Miller, professor of law and 2nd Amendment expert at Duke University; faculty co-director of Duke Center for Firearms Law; co-author of the book, "The Positive Second Amendment" (Cambridge University Press, 2018)