Supreme Court Allows New York’s Revised Gun Carry Law… for Now

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The U.S. Supreme Court today allowed New York’s new gun carry law to remain in effect as legal challenges to the statute continue.

In denying plaintiffs’ bid to vacate a Second Circuit Court of Appeal’s denial of a district court injunction, the justices did not rule on the merits of the law or on the plaintiffs’ claim it violates their Second Amendment rights. Rather Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Samuel Alito Clarence Thomas, said the court was merely respecting the Second Circuit’s managing of its own docket.

The ruling was the high court’s first on a gun law issue since its 6-3 ruling in June that citizens have a broad Second Amendment right to carry guns outside the home. That ruling found the existing New York gun law was unconstitutional.

“The New York law at issue in this application presents novel and serious questions under both the First and the Second Amendments,” Sotomayor wrote, adding that the Second Circuit did not provide any explanation for its stay of the injunction in full.

Supreme Court Voids New York Gun Permit Law, Establishes Right to Carry Outside Home

Appeals Court Allows New York to Keep Enforcing New Gun Law

In response to the Supreme Court’s summer ruling, several states including New York and New Jersey amended their gun laws. New York added new licensing requirements and created a list of places where firearms would be banned. Now that new law is facing legal challenges from Second Amendment advocates. Among other things, they argue that the restrictions on where citizens may carry guns violate their rights and are out of step with the Supreme Court ruling.

In response to a challenge to New York’s revised law, the federal district court found that the applicants were likely to succeed on a number of their claims, and it issued a preliminary injunction as to 12 provisions of the challenged law. With one exception, the Second Circuit issued a stay of the injunction in full, but in doing so did not provide any explanation for its ruling, Sotomayor noted.

In its denial of the stay, the Second Circuit did say it believed the district court “overreached by granting disproportionate statewide injunctive relief based on highly individualized assertions of harms” that were raised by the six individual appellees.

Justice Alioto urged opponents of the New York law not to be discouraged. “Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the Second Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of the appeal,” Justice Alioto wrote in an accompanying statement.

New Jersey finds itself in a similar position with its revised gun law that was signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Dec. 29, 2022. This week, U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb put a hold on enforcement of that new law, strongly suggesting that it is unconstitutional in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s expansion of gun rights last year.

Plaintiffs argue that the New Jersey law goes too far in banning guns in many “sensitive places” as well as on private property.

“As Plaintiffs lament, the challenged provisions force a person permitted to carry a firearm in New Jersey to navigate a `veritable minefield,”’ Bumb wrote. “Their view is a legitimate one. The Court knows of no constitutional right that requires this much guesswork by individuals wanting to exercise such right.”

New York
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