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Did NYC gun ban violate commerce clause? Supreme Court to hear arguments Monday

Evie Fordham

The Supreme Court on Monday will hear oral arguments for its first case examining the scope of the Second Amendment in nearly a decade.

The case, known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York, involves restrictions on gun owners' ability to transport their licensed firearms. Three gun owners and the firearms group are challenging a New York City law that prohibits individuals from transporting an unloaded firearm that is locked in a container to a shooting range or a second home beyond city limits.

The case also hinges on the Constitution's commerce clause. The challengers say the city was violating the clause by regulating commerce outside its territory.

"The City's effort to restrict licensed handguns to the premises and seven in-city ranges is so extraordinary that it violates basic constitutional provisions, wholly apart from the Second Amendment," the challengers wrote in their brief. "The City would have no power to limit its residents to in-city mechanics, or to direct them to leave their cell phones at home whenever they traveled elsewhere."

The city maintains that the case is moot as state law and city rules have changed, but the challengers say their case needs to be heard as city rules still restrict them unconstitutionally. The federal government jumped in and took the challengers' side, although for a different reason: the feds say the challengers are entitled to seek monetary damages from New York City, although they don't agree the city's rules still restrict gun owners, SCOTUSblog reported.

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In New York City, it is generally illegal to possess a firearm without a license – and the only license available to most residents, according to the plaintiffs, is one that allows people to possess the handgun in the home or within city limits.

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A federal appeals court rejected a constitutional challenge from the plaintiffs in February, ruling the law did not infringe upon gun owners’ Second Amendment rights, their ability to travel freely or the promotion of economic activity beyond city limits (i.e. interstate commerce).

The city argued that its rules promote public safety by limiting the number of firearms on the streets. Plaintiffs say it actually increases the number of firearms on the streets since gun owners are not able to transport those firearms to locations outside of the city.

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FOX Business' Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.

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