Supreme Court agrees to hear gun rights challenge to NYC transport law

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a case that will have implications for the rights of the nation’s gun owners, examining the scope of the Second Amendment for the first time in nearly 10 years.

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The case, known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York, involves restrictions on gun owners’ ability to transport their licensed firearms. Three gun owners and the firearms group are challenging a New York City law that prohibits individuals from transporting an unloaded firearm that is locked in a container to a shooting range or a second home beyond city limits.

For law-abiding Second Amendment supporters who live in high-crime areas, Tuesday’s announcement is likely to be “welcome news,” Ilya Shapiro, director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, told FOX Business.

“With this cert grant, the court can start checking the massive resistance of many states and cities to this important constitutional right. And it can start instructing the lower courts, many of which have treated the right as second-class, how the law works in this area,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro also noted that in the decade since it ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms, the Supreme Court has not taken on any cases regarding the scope of that right.

In New York City, it is generally illegal to possess a firearm without a license – and the only license available to most residents, according to the plaintiffs, is one that allows people to possess the handgun in the home or within city limits.

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A federal appeals court rejected a constitutional challenge from the plaintiffs in February, ruling the law did not infringe upon gun owners’ Second Amendment rights, their ability to travel freely or the promotion of economic activity beyond city limits (i.e. interstate commerce).

The city argued that its rules promote public safety by limiting the number of firearms on the streets. Plaintiffs say it actually increases the number of firearms on the streets since gun owners are not able to transport those firearms to locations outside of the city.