Gun-Rights Fight Intensifies: Good News and Bad News for NJ and NY — For Now

A federal court in New York recently blocked a state law that barred guns in “sensitive places,” which includes churches. Plaintiffs argued that the law infringes on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

The court contended that the plaintiffs “demonstrated that the State permits countless other private actors hosting secular activities to do what a house of worship may not. The houses of worship exclusion is not a neutral law of general applicability.”

Unfortunately, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit swept in to reinstate the law, which includes a “character test,” in which conceal carry applicants must provide a list of their social media accounts. Gun-rights advocates filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided to allow the law to remain in place while matters are still pending.

“The New York law at issue in this application presents novel and serious questions under both the First and the Second Amendments,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote (PDF), with Justice Clarence Thomas joining.

These pro-Second Amendment justices explained that the court’s decision to deny vacating the 2nd Circuit’s stay reflects respect for that court’s “procedures in managing its own docket, rather than expressing any view on the merits of the case” and said that applicants should not be deterred from pursuing the matter again if the 2nd Circuit fails to provide an explanation in reasonable time — an explanation that passes constitutional muster.

But gun-rights advocates are still fighting. A federal court on Tuesday temporarily blocked portions of a similar law in New Jersey.

Reuters reported that the court temporarily blocked restrictions on carrying concealed handguns into libraries, museums, bars, and restaurants. Lawmakers want to ban law-abiding residents from carrying concealed weapons on private property without the owner’s explicit permission and even inside their own cars. The court blocked those provisions, too. From Reuters:

The law was passed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in June that the U.S. Constitution protects individuals’ right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense, striking down a New York law governing gun licenses.

The decision left open the possibility for states to restrict guns in “sensitive places,” but said any restrictions must be consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of gun regulation. Bumb ruled Monday that New Jersey’s restrictions did not fit with that tradition.

Photo credit: By JoshuashearnOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

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