After the Newtown tragedy, the gun law debate is charged with emotions, and conflict. Tougher gun laws have divided lower courts across the country. And yet, despite all the buzz on the topic, the Supreme Court isn't weighing in on a restrictive gun law in New York state.
If the justices had decided to hear the case, they would've taken on a major Second Amendment question: Can states bar or strictly limit the carrying of guns in public for self defense?
The court turned down a case about a New York State law that requires people to show a special need for self-protection in order to get a permit for carrying guns in public, The New York Times reports.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, recently upheld the law. The NRA really wanted the justices to hear the case, proclaiming the law "a de facto ban on carrying a handgun outside the home.".
Though the justices didn't take on this case, other cases asking the same question are likely to reach the court in a few months, reports The Times.
Back in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own guns. But that decision is mostly limited to protecting the right to keep guns at home for self-defense.
Other than forbidding the carrying of guns in "sensitive places such as schools," The Times reports, the right to carry guns in public isn't mentioned in Heller one way or another.
Since the Heller decision, only a few challenges to gun laws and gun prosecutions have succeeded in lower courts, The Times reports. One major exception is when the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, struck down an Illinois law that banned carrying guns in public. That was just days before the Newtown shootings.
The Illinois decision is in direct conflict with the recent New York ruling. And New York isn't alone in its push for tougher gun laws. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey have similar gun restrictions.
Given the lack of uniformity in gun laws across the nation, it won't be too surprising if the justices step in the next time a case like this comes their way.
- New York Gun Control: Supreme Court Rejects Challenge To Concealed Weapons Law (Huffington Post)
- Gun Laws (FindLaw)
- 10 States With the Toughest Gun Laws (FindLaw Blotter)
- Are Guns Allowed in Shopping Malls? (FindLaw Blotter)