I’m Not So Sure The Court Will Expand 2nd-Amendment ‘Rights.’

              Why do I get the feeling that some of my gun violence prevention (GVP) advocacy friends can’t wait for the Supreme Court to expand 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ beyond the boundaries set by the Heller decision in 2008? You may recall that Scalia’s opinion in that case ratified the idea that Americans who wanted to keep a handgun in their home would now be exercising a Constitutional ‘right.’ Period. Did this decision create Constitutional protection for walking around the neighborhood with a concealed gun? No. Did it create Constitutional protection for walking around the neighborhood with an openly-carried gun? No. Did it prevent localities from making all kinds of rules and regulations that had to be met before you could keep a handgun in your home? No. The decision simply said that as long as sooner or later you could be given permission to keep a handgun in your home, you were not being deprived of your 2nd-Amendment ‘right’ to ‘keep and bear arms.’

              The case which has the GVP advocacy folks worked up into a tizzy doesn’t actually question the constitutionality of New York City’s onerous gun-licensing process at all; a process known as the Sullivan Law which has been in effect since 1912 and is, simply put, the most restrictive licensing system ever devised anywhere on the planet. The case in question deals only with a regulation which is not, in fact, part of the licensing process itself, but only comes into effect after a gun owner spends a lot of money and a lot of time getting licensed to own a gun. The regulation in question forbids any resident of New York City to carry his licensed gun outside the five counties which comprise the city’s geographic limits. If, for example, you want to take your licensed gun to any location outie the city, the moment you drive from da city into Joisey or Rockland or some other place, you’re violating the NYC licensing law.

              The case in question basically argues that by requiring a city resident to keep his licensed gun within the city limits is to deprive that resident of his 2nd-Amendment ‘right’ to keep a gun in his home if he happens to have another home. And what is now going on within the GVP world is the great fear that if this regulation is struck down, it opens the way for all those crazy gun owners to go anywhere and everywhere they want with their guns.

              Which happens not to be true. What?  Hey Mike, are you saying that maybe, just maybe the GVP noise machine is making a big deal out of something that may turn out to mean little, if anything at all? That’s exactly what I am saying, and here’s the reason why.

              Let’s say I have an apartment in Manhattan and a house out at the beach, maybe in one of the Hampton high-crime towns like Southampton or Quogue. The moment I drive my car out of the city and cross the border between Queens and Nassau Counties, I’m actually not just violating one law, I’m, violating two. Because I can’t have a gun in my beach house without getting a gun license from the Suffolk County where the beach house is located, unless the address of my other home is in a jurisdiction which has no gun licensing at all.

              Could the Court rule that no jurisdiction has the authority to determine whether guns represent a threat to public safety and therefore strike down every gun-licensing law in every state? They can rule whatever they want to rule, but on this one I wouldn’t take the short odds. The whole point of the Heller decision was to protect private ownership of handguns but also to protect the government’s authority to uphold the ‘compelling interest’ of keeping communities safe. And even a court with a nut-job like Clarence Thomas wouldn’t uphold the notion that when it comes to public safety, armed citizens should be our first line of defense.

3 thoughts on “I’m Not So Sure The Court Will Expand 2nd-Amendment ‘Rights.’

  1. Ok, speaking as a Western New Yorker by birth, and we all know what Upstaters and Downstaters think of each other…

    Since SCOTUS granted certiorari on this, my bet is on a narrow ruling unless they let it stand. Adam Winkler was Tweeting the demise of “may issue” but I don’t know where he gets that. SCOTUS has had since 1911 to overturn the Sullivan Act. I think it is safe.

    Perhaps the Court rules that the city cannot keep a citizen from taking a legally owned gun to another jurisdiction where it is legally allowed if it allows you to take the gun, legally secured, to several other locations within the five boroughs. If there is precedence on this or if there is law to that effect everywhere else it may bear on this. SCOTUS has let most laws stand since Heller, as Mike points out. It overturned DC’s law because it was an outlier.

    In NYS, unless something changed since I was young and mastodons roamed the earth, an Upstate/Long Island pistol carry permit is good outside NYC. I think mine says “Good Except in the City of New York”. It is a state permit even though issued by a county, at least it was issued by county when I got mine. Its good except in NYC, so when my old man drives from Erie County to his hunting lodge in Cattaragus County he is perfectly legal. I always worried about driving from Long Island to Upstate and back for hunting season. God help me if I had a flat on the Bronx River Pkwy.

    I don’t know if a NYC premises permit is good outside New York City but that’s a question for the other jurisdictions. The permit allows you to go to a shooting range within the five boroughs or to your business. But nowhere else. Since I am neither a SCOTUS justice or a mind reader, I have no idea what the Court will decide but glad they took the case. The NYC law seems absurdly overbroad. If I want to go to a competition in Westchester County and Westchester allows it, why do I have to find someone Upstate who rents a High Standard Trophy? If the only gunsmith that services my rare pistol is in Chemung County and I have the gun lawfully locked in a car safe and the ammo in another car safe and its legal to drive up NY 17 with it, what’s the big deal?

    As Steve Stills said, “paranoia runs deep, into your life it will creep”. I think NYC’s rationales for defending that law are deeply paranoid given the extremely tough vetting involved in getting a NYC permit to begin with. One reason we fight this eternal war about so-called “common sense” gun laws is because the kooks on both extremes can be counted on to reliably dodge common sense.

  2. How could any of this gun regs crap be this important?! I’m a serious gun nut. I hunt, make & sell custom ML rifles, yet & I’m thoroughly sick of gun folks who turn the whole meaning of existance into the right to bear arms. Grow up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If anyone is a threat to gun rights, whatever they may be, it’s the NRA, that Larry Pratt group, and the rest of these right-wing juveniles.

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