The case is New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett, a 2018 lawsuit filed by two New York state residents whose application to carry a firearm in public was severely restricted by a state licensing officer. New York law requires state residents to show “proper cause” to obtain a concealed carry license, meaning they must demonstrate a special need for self-protection, but the gun owners are arguing that determination was made by authors of the Constitution and not a state employee.
The case could potentially be another landmark ruling, legal observers are saying, because the high court is taking up the larger, looming issue of the right to carry a firearm outside the home since the two plaintiffs were restricted to where they could carry a firearm and for what purposes, such as target shooting but not for self-defense in a public area.
The 62-page appeal to the Supreme Court explains:
The officer did not grant either petitioner an “unrestricted” license to carry a concealed handgun, because neither petitioner established a non-speculative need for armed self-defense in all public places.
The previous Second Amendment case that came before the U.S. Supreme Court was Heller, in 2008, which struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on owning a handgun in the home. That ruling was a 5-4 decision in which Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said a “central component” of the Second Amendment is the “inherent right of self-defense.”
Mike Hammond, legislative counsel to Gun Owners of America, says another issue in the case is backroom politics: New York is known for issuing permits to people who are wealthy and famous, and who have political connections, he says.
“And the New York Rifle and Pistol Association has brought a challenge that that is denying a constitutional amendment not only on unconstitutional grounds but also insidious grounds,” he advises. “To say that unless you're rich, you can't have constitutional rights is a ridiculous thing."
Gun-control advocates have expressed concern to media outlets that a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will mark a second landmark ruling, and Hammond tells American Family News the anti-gun advocates are concerned five Second Amendment-defending justices are currently seated on the court.
Chief Justice John Roberts, whose rulings and reasonings have varied wildly, could make a sixth vote in the case but he is considered a toss-up by many on the Right and the Left.