In a case being closely watched by advocates on both sides of the gun issue, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday heard arguments challenging a New York City law that was actually changed earlier this year in an effort to derail the case, a move one national gun rights organization publicly derided.
“The only reason that change was made is because the Court accepted the case for review earlier this year, and everybody knows it,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. “That maneuver suggests the city knew all along its restriction would not pass constitutional muster, but only changed the law in an effort to prevent a court ruling that smacked it down.”
The case is known as New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, No. 18-280. It deals with a restrictive ordinance that forbade licensed handgun owners from taking their handguns outside the city limits for any reason. That included training, personal protection on vacation, competition or even hunting trips.
But shortly after the high court accepted the case for review, New York City officials scurried to change the law, in a widely reported effort to nullify the complaint. The Supreme Court may still dismiss the case, but by giving it a hearing, justices made it clear they are interested in the Second Amendment.
“We’re hopeful the High Court sees through New York’s attempt to moot this case by changing the law,” Gottlieb said. “The City of New York, and any other government body for that matter, should not be allowed to trample on a constitutional right and then change a law at the last minute to avoid being penalized for their demagoguery.”
Even former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the anti-gun billionaire who bankrolled Everytown for Gun Safety and now running for president, weighed in with an Op-Ed in the Chicago Tribune. He was careful to note that the contested regulation had been enacted before he became mayor, saying it “imposed an unnecessary restriction on gun owners’ ability to visit ranges — and it was rightly rescinded.”
But that raises a question about why he didn’t push to change the regulation during his three terms as mayor.
Attending the Supreme Court hearing was nationally-syndicated radio host Tom Gresham, coincidentally a member of the Second Amendment Foundation’s board of directors. He told TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, “This may be the case that indicates whether the court considers the Second Amendment to be a legitimate right on the same level as the First Amendment.”
However, according to The Daily Caller, South Texas College of Law Prof. Josh Blackman isn’t sure the case has much of a future.
“Over the past decade,” Blackman said, “the Supreme Court has said nothing about the scope of the Second Amendment. However, I expect the Court to dismiss the New York case, as the controversy is now moot.”
Gresham suggested that if the high court decides to reject the case, it will do so shortly. However, if the Court decides to rule in the case, that decision could be as far away as June, on the final day of the current session.
But CNN is reporting that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito did not appear ready to drop the case. According to CNN, Alito suggested that the new law “still violates the Second Amendment,” and Gorsuch questioned whether the new law allows a gun owner to stop while enroute to a gun range.
There appears to be genuine fear among gun control proponents that the high court will expand gun rights with a new ruling. This suggests anti-gunners are far less interested in gun safety than they are in ratcheting down on a constitutionally-enumerated individual right, say grassroots Second Amendment activists.
By no small coincidence, there are currently major gun rights efforts in progress in two states on then far sides of the country. In Virginia, where Bloomberg-supported Democrats took control of the State Assembly last month, several counties have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” where threatened new gun control laws will simply be ignored.
In Washington State, grassroots activists are scrambling to gather 300,000 signatures on an initiative petition to the Legislature by Dec. 28 in an effort to repeal gun control Initiative 1639, passed last year following a multi-million-dollar campaign that was supported by Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. According to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, Everytown contributed $450,000 cash and another $59,500 “in kind” to the $5.4 million campaign to pass I-1639, which is now being challenged in U.S. District Court with support from SAF and the National Rifle Association.
And while Evergreen State anti-gunners are busy soliciting cash donations to continue their gun control crusade in 2020, the state Department of Licensing reported Monday that there are now 645,373 active concealed pistol licenses in the state. That amounts to an increase of 6,734 new CPLs during November, further suggesting the gun control push that has left Washington State gun owners beleaguered for the past five years may be about to turn as increasing numbers of people are exercising, rather than abandoning, their rights under the state and federal constitutions.
With the state population hovering somewhere between 7.5 and 8 million, that may translate to about one in every nine or ten qualified adults being licensed to carry, and by next October, they may all be gun rights activists registered and eager to vote.