ABA files brief with Supreme Court in support of states' right to limit concealed weapon permits

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking to affirm the court’s prior decisions allowing states to tailor firearm-carry regulations to local conditions and needs under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The case out of New York state marks the first major gun case since the Supreme Court decided District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. In that decision, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority to say that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use firearms for traditionally lawful purposes. But the opinion did not invalidate regulations on concealed carrying of firearms, which the ABA brief noted is “an essential tool States have used for centuries to stem gun violence.”

The petitioners in the present case sued the New York Licensing Officer and the superintendent of the state police in the Northern District of New York, alleging that their Second Amendment rights had been violated when they were not granted unrestricted firearm-carry licenses. The district court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim, holding that, under clearly established precedent of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, New York’s handgun licensing law does not violate the Second Amendment. The petitioners subsequently appealed, and the appeals court issued a summary order affirming the district court’s decision.

The ABA brief noted the association has studied firearms for more than a century and began issuing firearm policies following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The brief highlighted the interests of state and local governments to develop diverse approaches to concealed carry regulations and emphasized the importance of such flexibility to address public safety concerns and to protect victims of domestic violence.

Oral argument for New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen is scheduled for November 3. The law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison filed the brief pro bono on behalf of the ABA.

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