New York City passed a law that forbids individuals from transporting legally owned firearms out of the city. Gun owners were only permitted to carry to specific gun ranges in the city, and could not travel with them, even if it was to another home or business outside the city. This law also prohibited transport to other areas in New York, even if those areas had less stringent laws.
By limiting transport only to certain gun ranges, those gun ranges will be much busier, resulting in less time available for gun owners to practice or train using their firearms. Training helps ensure gun owners are using their firearms in a safe manner, and there is a greater chance of accidents occurring will less practice.
The Second Amendment guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms,” which McDonald v. Chicago and District of Columbia v. Heller both ruled is a “fundamental” right. Although gun control and rights activists tend to focus on the right to possess a firearm, Americans equally have the right to “bear arms,” which means the right to carry or transport firearms. In fact, court precedent and historical context support this right for individuals.
The landmark case of Heller cited Justice Ginsberg’s opinion in Muscarello v. United States that “[s]urely a most familiar meaning is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment . . . indicate[s]: ‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person” in their ruling that upheld the Second Amendment. The Petitioner also pointed out that historical context supports this view as well.
When the Second Amendment was written, it was normal for Americans “to carry loaded firearms upon their persons as they went about their daily lives”. The framers of the Constitution understood this to be the meaning of the right to bear arms when they included it in the Second Amendment. Americans constitutionally have the right to transport their firearm in order to defend themselves and others, and the Supreme Court has an opportunity here to uphold and clarify that right.
Although the Supreme Court has never clarified which standard of review should be used to determine if a law violates a Second Amendment right, this case would not even pass intermediate scrutiny as there is no evidence that it upholds an important government interest “by means that are substantially related” to it. The Supreme Court should find this law to have unconstitutionally infringed upon the rights of the individual.
The city has since rescinded the law and is now arguing that the case is “moot” so the Supreme Court shouldn’t rule on it. Though the ban has been lifted, there are still restrictions; Clement, who represents N.Y.S. Rifle and Pistol Association, explained in court that lawful gun owners still “can’t make stops … to use the restroom” while transporting a firearm! The city’s removal of the ban also does not prevent other cities and towns from doing something similar, so the Court needs to make clear that bans such as this violate the right to defend oneself, no matter whether one is on a road trip out of town, or in their own home.
The right to transport firearms has long been recognized through historical record and court precedent as protected by the Second Amendment. Although this ban is not in effect anymore, it has created a precedent for local governments to infringe upon legal gun owners’ constitutional right to protect themselves in public, whether that is in their city or elsewhere in their state. The Supreme Court has an opportunity here to reaffirm the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.