Second Amendment advocates hit a roadblock this week when the Supreme Court announced its decision to toss out a challenge to one of New York City’s gun laws.
As USA Today reported, justices considered an ordinance that initially prevented gun owners in the city from transporting their firearms anywhere but one of seven approved shooting ranges. Additionally, the law required individuals to carry unloaded guns in locked containers with ammunition transported separately.
The plaintiffs in the case argued the restrictions amounted to an unconstitutional infringement on the right to bear arms.
New York relaxes its law
City officials amended the prohibitive regulations before the case reached the Supreme Court, which some critics believe was done in an effort to preempt a ruling that might have strengthened the right to bear arms.
If that was the strategy, it paid off when the court decided in an unsigned 6-3 ruling that it would not proceed with the case.
“After we granted certiorari, the State of New York amended its firearm licensing statute, and the City amended the rule so that petitioners may now transport firearms to a second home or shooting range outside of the city, which is the precise relief that petitioners requested in the prayer for relief in their complaint,” the opinion stated. “Petitioners’ claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the City’s old rule is therefore moot.”
Three justices dissented, including Samuel Alito who offered a sharp critique of the court’s reasoning.
“It is certainly true that the new City ordinance and the new State law give petitioners most of what they sought, but that is not the test for mootness,” he wrote.
Alito went on to quote John Marshall, the nation’s first Supreme Court chief justice, who determined that a case “becomes moot only when it is impossible for a court to grant any effectual relief whatsoever to the prevailing party” and that as long as “the parties have a concrete interest, however small, in the outcome of the litigation, the case is not moot.”
Kavanaugh wants to hear another gun case
Though Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s liberal wing in saying the case should be tossed, he did opine that something needs to be done about gun rights.
“I share Justice Alito’s concern that some federal and state courts may not be properly applying Heller and McDonald,” Kavanaugh noted. “The Court should address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court.”
With important constitutional decisions always in the pipeline, it is increasingly clear that voters on the right must re-elect President Donald Trump to ensure principled conservatives continue to be nominated for judicial positions.