WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider a major new gun control case, whether there is a constitutional right to carry a weapon outside the home for self-defense.
As it stands now, Americans have the right to gun ownership for self-defense in their homes.
But the court said that in its term that begins next October, it would hear a National Rifle Association-supported challenge to a century-old New York state law that requires those seeking a permit to carry a concealed weapon outside the home to show a special need for self-defense.
New York is one of eight states that limit who has the right to carry a weapon in public, while in the country’s other 42 states, gun owners can mostly carry their weapons when they leave their homes.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees gun ownership rights.
But the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, in asking the Supreme Court to review the state law, said, “Perhaps the single most important unresolved Second Amendment question is whether the Second Amendment secures the individual right to bear arms for self-defense where confrontations often occur: outside the home.”
The state gun rights group contended, “The text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment and this court’s binding precedents compel the conclusion that the Second Amendment does indeed secure that right.”
The court’s consideration of the case coincides with heightened new concerns about recent mass shootings in the United States that left eight dead at several spas in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, 10 at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, and eight more at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, with none of the states where the shootings occurred restricting carrying guns in public for self-defense.
Former President Donald Trump frequently touted his support for political candidates supporting gun ownership rights, while the current U.S. leader, President Joe Biden, has signed executive orders to try to curb gun violence and called on Congress to tighten gun background checks and ban assault weapons.
The Supreme Court previously turned down a request to review the New York law, but the court’s new 6-3 conservative majority, which includes three justices appointed by Trump, has signaled that it could be more receptive to challenges of laws limiting gun owners’ rights.
The Supreme Court rejected a request by New York state Attorney General Letitia James to turn down a review of the open carry restrictions in her state.
The state’s law “has existed in the same essential form since 1913 and descends from a long Anglo-American tradition of regulating the carrying of firearms in public,” she wrote in a brief to the court.
She said the state law complies with a previous Supreme Court’s gun rights ruling, “that the Second Amendment right is not unlimited and can be subject to state regulation consistent with the historical scope of the right.”
The New York appeal was brought by two men, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, who both received a permit to carry a gun outside the home for hunting and target practice but were turned down to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense.
Paul Clement, a lawyer representing the challengers to the New York law, told the court the country is divided, with “the Second Amendment alive and well in the vast middle of the nation, and those same rights disregarded near the coasts.”