New York City has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, but 50 shootings over the most recent weekend will pale in comparison, if the Supreme Court overturns a key law.
The city is awash with guns, bought mostly out-of-state, transported here and sold on the streets. Even young teens are packing sophisticated handguns.
The past week was one of the bloodiest in city history. Gun violence is soaring, and police believe it is likely to go higher as the summer heats up.
In all, 50 people were shot in 46 separate incidents over a seven-day period ending Sunday evening — a more than 250 percent surge from the same week in 2020, according to The New York Post.
But it could get a lot worse.
The conservative Supreme Court is about to take up a challenge to a New York state law that limits carrying a concealed handgun to residents who can demonstrate a special need beyond a general desire for self-protection.
The law “makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen” to get the necessary license, Paul Clement, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs said.
The New York law was passed early in the 20th century in response to an increase in homicides and suicides committed with concealed firearms , New York Attorney General Letitia James, noted in a brief filed with the court.
The state has repeatedly urged the federal government to pass stricter public safety laws, including a federal gun trafficking law, to curb the spread of guns.
Five years ago, the state Attorney General’s office released the first-of-its-kind study of guns recovered from criminals or crime scenes.
In all, nearly 53,000 crime guns recovered by New York law enforcement between 2010 and 2015 were traced, revealing an “iron pipeline” to states with lax or non-existent gun laws.
Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are the chief sources of guns into New York State, according to the report.
“There is still no federal law that prevents someone from crossing state lines with a truckload of guns and selling them to criminals in a parking lot,” said New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand., at the time.
“As long as gun trafficking is not a federal crime, it will continue to be shamefully easy for criminals to get their hands on these weapons. “
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has renewed calls for tougher federal laws and defended the state’s current limits on open carry.
“The streets of New York are not the O.K. Corral, and the NRA’s dream of a society where everyone is terrified of each other and armed to the teeth is abhorrent to our values,” he said.
The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, could a have nationwide impact. Lower federal courts are split on the question.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, covering Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, was the most recent to rule.
The full federal appeals court concluded after a 700-year review of U.S. and English common law that people have never had “an unfettered, general right to openly carry arms in public for individual self-defense.”
The ruling followed mass shooting in Colorado and Georgia.
Ten people were killed at a Boulder, Colo., grocery store, prompting the state to consider a ban on assault-style weapons.
Eight people were killed at Atlanta area spas. Six of the victims were of Asian descent, amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
“The states do not violate the Second Amendment by asserting their longstanding English and American rights to prohibit certain weapons from entering those public spaces as means of providing ‘domestic tranquility’ and forestalling ‘domestic violence,” wrote Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee in a 127-page decision.
The full court ruling was in line with the Supreme Court’s most recent gun ruling, the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570.
In the controversial opinion, written by late-Justice Anton Scalia, the court held the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to have a gun for “home protection.” All other uses were subject to regulation.
Three other circuit courts have issued rulings similar to the 9th Circuit’s decision. Those courts are the Second, Third and Fourth Circuits, according to Courthouse News Service.
The New York Attorney General’s Office will represent the state in Supreme Court proceedings, now scheduled for the fall term.
“We will vigorously defend any challenge to New York state’s gun laws that are intended to protect public safety,” said James.
“We look forward to presenting the state’s arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court and to showing how New York’s laws protect public safety in a manner consistent with the Second Amendment.”