Washington, D.C., May 14, 2019 — As the U.S. Supreme Court continues to consider its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade, Brady today filed an amicus brief calling on the court to decline to decide the constitutional questions presented by New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York. Brady, which has led the legal fight for gun safety for more than 30 years, urged the Court to reject the petitioner’s plea to dramatically expand Second Amendment rights and gut the ability to enact public safety laws to prevent gun violence. Paul Wolfson of Wilmer Hale, and Jonathan Lowy and Tanya Schardt of Brady are counsel for Brady in the case.
Brady VP of Legal Jonathan Lowy stated,
“While the gun lobby is pushing to blow a hole in critical gun violence prevention laws with a vast new right to carry and potentially fire guns in virtually every public space imaginable, they don’t mention that Americans have a right to live and to enact the gun laws they want and need to protect their communities. The Supreme Court should resist the call for judicial activism, and instead exercise judicial caution and restraint, and honor longstanding precedent that the government can and should put public safety first and foremost. The Court should avoid a sweeping Second Amendment ruling that could effectively shut the door to Congress and state houses for Americans demanding enactment of strong laws to prevent gun violence.”
New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. State of New York is the first major Second Amendment case to go before the Supreme Court since 2010. The case challenges New York City’s ordinance allowing those with a “premises” gun license to keep a handgun in their homes. While the law generally does not allow those individuals to transport their gun outside the home, it does allow transport to seven shooting ranges within City limits, provided the gun is transported unloaded, in a locked container, separately from ammunition.
The plaintiffs, who made no attempt to obtain a separate concealed carry license, claim the ordinance violates their rights to take their guns to shooting ranges outside the city and to their second homes upstate. Recently, New York City announced that they will repeal the ordinance in question before the case is heard before the Supreme Court.
Brady’s brief urges the Court to reject New York State Rifle & Pistol’s plea for “an unprecedented and expansive rule of constitutional law enshrining a right to carry, and potentially to fire, lethal firearms in public,” instead urging “judicial caution and restraint.” It states,
“The reading of the Second Amendment petitioners advance fails to appreciate the risks to public safety it would create. It runs counter to this Court’s jurisprudence construing rights to allow the government to preserve public safety even when far lesser risks are involved. It is also far broader than necessary to decide this case. The Court should decline petitioners’ call for judicial activism. Instead, the Court should reaffirm the longstanding and broad power of the People, through the organs of self-government, to adopt reasonable measures to protect public safety and to safeguard the most precious right of all - the right to live.”
The brief further notes that “it may be unnecessary for the Court to decide the constitutional issues at all” due to New York City’s actions to repeal the regulations challenged in the case and potentially rendering the case moot. It also asserts that the regulations may be preempted by federal statutory law, and states that the case should be resolved on either of those grounds if possible. The brief continues,
“Given the sweeping potential consequences of the reading of the Second Amendment petitioners advance - matters on which the American people are committed to addressing through democratic processes - the Court should not resolve the constitutional questions unless it becomes absolutely necessary to do so.”
The full amicus brief can be found here.
Brady’s one-pager on New York State Rifle can be found here.
Following the 10th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, Brady released a report examining the impact of the case and noting that the ruling leaves in place clear, constitutional, and common-sense gun laws. That report can be found here.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.