The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge to a restrictive NYC gun law after city and state officials ultimately softened its regulation on transporting guns, midway through the nearly two-year legal battle.
The court's 6-3 decision to decline a ruling, with newly installed conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the liberal minority, now ultimately kills the chance of having this case expand gun rights to other states. Supporters had expected the conservative majority would usher in a halcyon period for gun owners.
“Petitioners’ claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the City’s old rule is therefore moot,” read the opinion of the majority justices.
The case was heard last December after the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, and others, spent a year challenging the city’s policy of restricting the transport of firearms from the weapon's registered address to any authorized gun ranges or shooting clubs outside city limits. The regulation barred gun enthusiasts living in the five boroughs from participating in gun shows in upstate New York or taking them out of state, a violation of the Second Amendment, according to the association.
The city's lawyers argued otherwise, telling the Justices that the regulation was merely intended to protect New Yorkers from harm. Even so, the city subsequently repealed the restriction, easing conceal and carry laws for legal gun owners beyond city limits.
After the city eased up on its gun transport guidelines, the State Legislature passed measures allowing for easy transport of guns so long as they’re unloaded and safely locked.
Once the city amended its policy, with New York State following suit, the justices concluded there was nothing else to discuss.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito countered the decision is not moot. “By incorrectly dismissing this case as moot, the Court permits our docket to be manipulated in a way that should not be countenanced,” wrote Alito.
The decision by New York City does not change its status as one of the hardest cities in the country to obtain a legal handgun. The process of purchasing and registering a firearm in the city takes upwards of a year and several background checks.