MANHATTAN (CN) – Dealing a setback to pro-gun groups, the Second Circuit upheld restrictions Friday on how firearms can be transported from New York City homes to shooting ranges.
Writing for the unanimous three-member panel, U.S. Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch made clear that the security of New Yorkers was at issue.
“The city has presented evidence supporting its contention that the rule serves to protect the public safety of both license-holding and non-license-holding citizens of New York City,” he said.
New York City Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci echoed that that sentiment.
“Limiting public transport of handguns licensed for home possession makes us all safer,” Paolucci said in an email.
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and three individual gun owners brought the underlying challenge to a rule that bars holders of “premises” licenses in New York City from taking their firearms outside their houses, except to an authorized small-arms shooting range.
Even then, the gun must be unloaded in a locked container with ammunition carried separately.
Erin Murphy, an attorney for the challengers with the white-shoe law firm Kirkland & Ellis, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Neither did their allies at the National Rifle Association, which cast the rule as unconstitutional in a friend-of-the-court brief.
Friday’s defeat falls at a time of an intense backlash and mass boycott against the gun group in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The Second Circuit today found New York’s rule had no violation of the Second Amendment.
“Our analysis puts the focus where it belongs: on the core right of self-defense in the home,” the 47-page ruling states.
Beyond the constitutional right to bear arms, the gun owners claimed that New York’s rule also trampled on their First Amendment right to associate at the range of their choosing.
But Lynch noted that New York gun owners have plenty of choice.
“The record evidence demonstrates that seven firing ranges in New York City are available to any premises license-holder,” he wrote. “One range, Olinville Arms in the Bronx, is open to any member of the public for an hourly fee.”
The judges noted that New York gun owners can also take a trip upstate.
“Finally, nothing in the rule precludes the plaintiffs from utilizing gun ranges or attending competitions outside New York City, since guns can be rented or borrowed at most such venues for practice purposes,” the opinion notes. “New York state law expressly allows individuals to use a gun that is not their own at a shooting range if the license holder is present.”
Lynch drew a distinction between New York gun owners’ preferences and their rights.
“We recognize that the plaintiffs may prefer to practice with their own weapon — something that the rule makes fully possible within the city,” he wrote. “That the rule restricts practicing with their own firearms to ranges within the city does not make practicing outside the city or with their own firearms impossible, just not the two together.”