Supreme Court hears case on bearing arms, public safety
Washington, Nov 3 (EFE).- The US Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in the first significant case involving firearms that it has heard in 13 years, a case on which the nine magistrates will have to decide whether to reconfirm the right to bear arms, enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, or chart new ground in the public safety realm.
Under examination by the high court is a suit filed by two individuals, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, and the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association.
The plaintiffs have sued New York state for prohibiting citizens to carry firearms in public, despite the fact that the state allows residents to carry concealed weapons on the street provided that they have received special authorization after demonstrating a specific need to be able to defend themselves, should the need arise.
One of the plaintiffs filing the suit received permission to carry his firearm on his way to work, and both men received licenses to carry weapons for hunting and target practice, but they were denied permission to carry weapons outside their homes for their own defense.
This case could have implications in seven other states with similar laws: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
The first person to address the high court was the attorney for the plaintiffs, Paul Clement, who was US solicitor general from 2005-2008 during the administration of Republican George W. Bush.
Clement defended what he described as the fundamental “constitutional right” to bear arms on the street.
He said that, with its law, which dates from 108 years ago, New York state has made carrying arms in public a privilege for those who can demonstrate an unusual need to do so.
This is not how constitutional rights work, said Clements, who emphasized that US history confirms the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms outside the home for self-defense.
Thus, he urged the high court, which has a conservative majority, to overturn the New York law because it makes it a crime for citizens to exercise that right.
The magistrates’ questions largely focused on public safety.
After Clement spoke, New York solicitor general Barbara Underwood defended the state regulations, saying that New York was not an atypical case insofar as the state restricts the ability of people to carry firearms in public.
Justice Clarence Thomas asked whether such restrictions were really necessary in areas less populated than New York City.
Acting US assistant solicitor general Brian Fletcher, representing the Joe Biden administration, emphasized that for centuries lawmakers have protected the public by passing reasonable laws.
A decision by the high court is not expected until next summer, with a favorable ruling meaning that more firearms will be brought onto New York City streets.
The last time that the high court ruled on an important case involving firearms was 13 years ago, when in a 5-4 vote the magistrates ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right of the individual to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense in the District of Columbia v. Heller.