Gun control laws fall at dizzying pace after Supreme Court ruling

New York’s gun control law prohibiting firearms in Times Square and Yankee Stadium, subways, and other sensitive locations is now on unstable legal ground. A judge found that the provisions are contrary to the Second Amendment. However, the case is being appealed.

The ongoing New York gun control battle is only one example of a changing legal landscape that has resulted from the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court’s expansion in June of the Second Amendment. This ruling has caused lower courts to block and strike down gun control measures at an alarming rate.

Several judges across the country have ruled that it is unconstitutional for guns without serial numbers to be banned. This was in response to the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision this summer. It also prevents people in felony indictments from purchasing guns.

Jake Charles, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law professor, said that “in the immediate aftermath”, there are a half-dozen courts that have ruled against laws based upon this decision. “I think it will shock people when we see what happens to Bruen within the first six-months.”

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The Republican-appointed justices’ decision to overrule Roe v. Wade dominated the Supreme Court’s previous term. The court’s aggressive pursuits of conservative agenda items like the expansion of the Second Amendment are now being brought into sharper focus by lower courts grappling with the implications of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Justice Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion interpreted the Second Amendment broadly to protect the right of self-defense. The decision also affirmed that gun rights could be legally limited, namely through gun control measures rooted within the “nation’s historical tradition” of firearm regulation.

However, the court’s “historical traditions” test has been widely criticized for being vague and proving little assistance to judges who aren’t trained historians. The Bruen test also removed the requirement that judges evaluate whether a law challenged is effective in preventing gun violence. This could have a negative impact on public safety.

“The Supreme Court has adopted an assessment that will make it difficult to justify a lot of gun security laws, even uncontroversial ones, like background checks or bans for domestic abusers having firearms,” stated Adam Winkler, a UCLA School of Law professor and Second Amendment expert.

The New York case tested the Second Amendment’s ambiguity in the area of “sensitive places”. These are areas where the Supreme Court stated that guns could not be lawfully prohibited. However, the justices left this term mostly undefined.

New York Governor. Kathy Hochul (D), signed a law on July 1 that made it illegal to carry guns in airports and houses of worship. It also imposed stricter licensing requirements. Gun Owners of America quickly challenged this law.

A federal judge in Syracuse ruled in favor of the gun-rights group earlier this month. This temporarily blocked key provisions of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, New York’s law on concealed carry. U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled that some of the law’s increased licensing requirements and location-specific prohibitions, including the prohibition on guns in Times Square, were too extreme.

Gun Owners of America was the plaintiff in the case and hailed its decision.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president of the group, stated that anti-gunners such as Kathy Hochul or Eric Adams (New York City Mayor) misrepresented the Second Amendment before the courts. This put New Yorkers at great disadvantage amid rising crime.” We are grateful to Judge Suddaby’s quick action to restore the rights of the people to keep and carry arms.

Suddaby was a former President George W. Bush appointee and ordered New York officials stop enforcing the relevant provisions. He delayed the effect of his decision, allowing officials from the state to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit. The case is still ongoing.

Suddaby claimed that New York officials only justified some of the law’s changes on constitutional grounds while not adequately defending others.

The judge specifically maintained provisions restricting guns from property owned or temporarily restricted government; polling places, houses of worship with some exceptions; schools, and public assemblies.

He blocked gun bans at places like public transportation, summer camp, Times Square, and entertainment venues, such as bars, theaters, stadiums and concerts.

Suddaby wrote that even though the Court found most of CCIA’s list “sensitive locations” violates the Constitution, it did so because the list (or part of it) does not have to change in their entirety. It was because defendants simply have not met their burden of researching historical materials for evidence supporting New York State’s statute.

Hochul called the ruling “disappointing” and promised to do “everything possible” to stop gun violence.

Second Amendment experts believe that Bruen’s silence regarding key gun rights issues will likely result in courts across the country coming to different conclusions about the law. It is possible that the New York ruling will be in conflict with another federal judge who has a different view on guns in “sensitive locations”.

This means that another major gun rights case could be in the Supreme Court’s hands.

Charles of Pepperdine University stated that he initially believed that the Supreme Court would not take another Second Amendment case after Bruen was down. He also thought that lower courts would be able to figure out how to apply the test and see how it turns out. “And now, I am becoming more convinced that the Supreme Court will almost be forced to take a case sooner than expected.”