On April 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, a case involving a dispute over whether New York City rules limiting transportation of licensed firearms to ranges within New York City limits (and certain state-designated hunting areas) violate the Second Amendment, the dormant Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel.
Under New York state law, possessing a firearm without a license is prohibited. New York City issues “premises” licenses that permit possession of a pistol or revolver at a particular address, and under city “Rule 5-23” such firearms may not be lawfully removed from that address except for transport directly to or from authorized shooting ranges within New York City limits (as well as certain state-designated hunting areas). Plaintiffs, who hold New York City premises licenses, wished to transport their firearms to shooting ranges, competitions, and/or homes outside of New York City. They sued for injunctive relief in federal district court, alleging that Rule 5-23’s restrictions violated the Second Amendment and were otherwise invalid under the dormant Commerce Clause, the First Amendment right of expressive association, and the fundamental right to travel. The district court rejected all these claims and dismissed the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, applying intermediate scrutiny to the Second Amendment claims, affirmed. The Supreme Court, however, subsequently granted certiorari to address whether the City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is consistent with the Second Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel.
The case was vacated and remanded with a 6-3 vote in a per curiam opinion on April 27, 2020. Justice Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch joined in full and Justice Thomas joined except for Part IV-B.
To discuss the case, we have David Thompson, of Cooper & Kirk and Amy Swearer, Legal Fellow at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies
As always, the Federalist Society takes no particular legal or public policy positions. All opinions expressed are those of the speakers.