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High Court Reviews NY Gun Curbs After Big Second Amendment Case

Last summer, the Supreme Court created a fundamental right to carry a concealed firearm and declared that all restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms are presumptively unconstitutional. The majority’s decision in the Bruen case is one of the most radical rulings in history, a threat to thousands of state and federal laws that have stemmed gun violence for centuries, reports Slate. It raised the question: Did the court really intend to give virtually every adult the right to carry a concealed firearm into almost any place they choose? We won’t have to wait long for an answer. Gun advocates are asking the high court to block most of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), which the state legislature passed after Bruen. The New York law repealed the state’s now-invalid limits on concealed carry, replacing them with more rigorous screenings for permit applicants plus a list of “sensitive places” where guns remained banned. A conservative judge promptly halted the statute, gutting the screening for permits while legalizing concealed carry in hospitals, parks, zoos, movie theaters, protests, and more. A federal appeals court reinstated the law, leading its opponents to beg the Supreme Court for emergency relief.

This mess was foreseeable from the moment Bruen came down. The majority opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas imposed a maximalist vision of the Second Amendment: Every restriction on the right to “armed self-defense,” he wrote, is unconstitutional unless it has “historical analogues” from 1791, when the amendment was ratified. These analogues must demonstrate a “consensus view” that the gun restriction was lawful. But how many analogues make up a “consensus”? Two? Three? Ten? And how closely must a modern gun law align with its historical analogue? Today’s firearm codes address problems that were inconceivable in 1791. Are states forbidden from banning guns on subways because subways didn’t exist 232 years ago? Federal judges have grappled with these questions for six months, and the results are predictably chaotic. Since Bruen, courts have, for instance, ruled that individuals have a right to buy while under a restraining order for domestic violence, and to scratch out the serial number on a firearm, rendering it untraceable to law enforcement. Domestic violence wasn’t a crime in 1791 and serial numbers were not yet widely used.


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