The Red & Black
December 2019 Issue

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Major Second Amendment Case


By Jennifer Wu

In the past decade, gun violence in the U.S. has dramatically increased, to say the least. As millions of phones go off every second across our country, we are seemingly perpetually bombarded with articles of yet another shooting. Our reactions are no longer that of shock but rather one of effortless acceptance of the fact that, in our generation, shootings have become the new norm.

But above all of the noise, the Supreme Court has stayed silent on the issue for nearly ten years- up until a few weeks ago. The SCOTUS accepted the case of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York. This case started with a New York law prohibiting New York City residents from taking their handguns outside their homes except to shooting ranges when the gun was unloaded and in a locked container. However, even under those conditions, guns were not allowed to be brought outside of the city limits.

Local handgun owners were, unsurprisingly, furious, arguing that the law’s restrictions infringed on their Second Amendment rights. When lower courts upheld the law, the handgun owners appealed, eventually climbing all the way to the highest court in the land.

When the news of the Supreme Court accepting the case reached New York City, the city government repealed the law almost immediately, allowing those with licenses to take their guns to their homes, businesses, and shooting ranges both inside and outside of city limits. This caused many liberal justices to quickly suggest declaring the case moot -- the plaintiff had now already received the result they were looking for. Yet some conservative judges argued that the dispute still remained, as the new law still contained many gray areas. In addition, they questioned the city’s quick enactment of the new law.

Nevertheless, the case continues, causing many gun control activists to become worried that the conservative justice majority may deliver a verdict that will take away from the many gun restrictions that have been passed since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. In contrast, gun rights activists are taking the Supreme Court’s acceptance of the case as a sign that their gun rights may greatly increase.

However, if the comments made by the justices on Monday are any indication of what the final verdict may look like, no decision will be given to either side. Even though this case may not be a monumental one, the Second Amendment will undoubtedly be a hot topic for years to come, and the Supreme Court’s undertaking of this case is only an indication of that.