The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City's prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.
Under the city's rule, anyone with a "premises license" for a handgun must keep the gun at home and can basically only transport it to an authorized gun range within the city limits.
That's not good enough for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
"This is to stop a municipality from banning travel with a lawful object," association president Tom King told NY1.
The association, along with three New York City residents, filed suit.
"Gun owners in New York City," King said. "Were getting arrested when they tried to fly outside of New York City. If they were going out to Arizona to a training facility, they were getting arrested and having their pistol licenses taken away from them for something that was totally legal anywhere in the United States — anywhere else in the United States. And it should be here in New York."
Lower courts have previously sided with the city. An appeals court last year unanimously found the rule didn't substantially affect the core of the Second Amendment and the state's interest was in public safety.
But the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would take the case this fall.
The city's top lawyer, Zachary Carter, urged the court to reject the case, arguing that the restrictions allowed New York police to reduce the number of guns carried in public.
There are seven shooting ranges in the city and at least one in each of the city's five boroughs, Carter said.
"The New York City gun laws have helped make New York City the safest big city in America by far," NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said. "If the Supreme Court is going to look at these laws, make a change, we'll abide by it. It's what we do. And we'll continue to keep New York City safe."
"We believe that our gun laws protect people in this city, and law enforcement believes that too," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an unrelated news conference Tuesday. "So we'll fight vigorously to protect what we have."
The court's decision to hear the appeal could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The court may be more willing to take on a gun rights case now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired and been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was President Donald Trump's second high-court nominee to be confirmed.
Joining in support of gun rights, 17 states said the court should break its years-long silence and use the case to define the scope of gun rights under the Constitution and the level of scrutiny, or skepticism, judges should apply to gun laws.
The New York City gun law case won't be argued until October, and a decision is unlikely before 2020.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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