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Supreme Court to Hear Major Concealed Carry Case

The justices agreed to hear a case over New York’s restrictions on carrying firearms outside of the home.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court will hear a major gun control case next term in the first Second Amendment controversy the high court has taken up in years.

The Court granted a writ of certiorari on Monday morning to Robert Nash, Brandon Koch and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association over whether the state police violate gun owners' rights with tough criteria for a concealed carry license. 

Nash and Koch tried to get licenses to carry a firearm in public but were denied due to the state’s requirement that applicants show an “actual and articulable” need to carry. 

“New York prohibits its ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying a handgun outside the home without a license, and it denies licenses to every citizen who fails to convince the state that he or she has ‘proper cause’ to carry a firearm,” the petition states. 

“Good, even impeccable, moral character plus a simple desire to exercise a fundamental right is, according to these courts, not sufficient,” it continues.

A similar question was brought before the court in District of Columbia v. Heller, when D.C. special police officer Dick Anthony Heller sought an injunction against the Council of the District of Columbia to get a license to keep a handgun at home.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, ruled that D.C.’s ban on registering handguns, as well as its requirement to keep guns at home nonfunctional, violated the Second Amendment.  

Paul Clement of Kirkland & Ellis, who is representing Nash, Koch and the gun group on appeal, cites Heller throughout the petition.

“In District of Columbia v. Heller, this court held that the Second Amendment protects ‘the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,’” Clement wrote. “For more than a decade since then, numerous courts of appeals have squarely divided on this critical question: whether the Second Amendment allows the government to deprive ordinary law-abiding citizens of the right to possess and carry a handgun outside the home.” 

But Neal Goldfarb, who filed an amicus brief against the petition for certiorari, argues that the Supreme Court misunderstood the Second Amendment’s original meaning. 

“There’s a very strong original meaning argument that Heller was wrong, based on data from a method called corpus linguistics” — that is, using statistical analysis of written or spoken data to investigate linguistic meaning — ”and it’s evidence that was not available when Heller was decided,” Goldfarb said in a phone interview with Courthouse News. 

“My argument was that the court should deny cert because they shouldn’t deal with Second Amendment issues unless they’re going to deal with this challenge,” Goldfarb continued.

Another case listed in the petition, McDonald v. Chicago, found that the 14th Amendment makes the Second Amendment applicable to the states, leaving confusion on the limits of statewide gun control that the New York case aims to clear up. 

The Firearms Policy Coalition filed a competing amicus brief in support of the challenge.

“Last we checked, the Second Amendment doesn’t limit the right to bear arms to a few select locations,” the gun rights advocacy group wrote in a January press release. “Yet courts across the country have had trouble deciding where the right applies.” 

The Supreme Court’s decision in the New York case could severely reduce restrictions keeping U.S. gun owners from carrying their weapons in public.

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