by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently handed down an opinion upholding a clearly unreasonable restriction on licensed gun owners’ right to carry their weapons. The Court begins its analysis with this statement of the case:
Plaintiffs … brought suit … challenging a provision of a New York City licensing scheme under which an individual with a “premises license” for a handgun may remove the handgun from the designated premises only for specified purposes, including going to a shooting range in New York City. Plaintiffs sought to remove licensed handguns from their licensed premises for other purposes, including going to shooting ranges outside New York City and transporting the handgun to a second home in upstate New York.
After weighing the burden imposed on the gun owners against the City’s need to protect public safety, the Court concludes:
The burdens imposed by the Rule do not substantially affect the exercise of core Second Amendment rights, and the Rule makes a contribution to an important state interest in public safety substantial enough to easily justify the insignificant and indirect costs it imposes on Second Amendment interests.
Accordingly, [the Rule] survives intermediate scrutiny.
The Second Amendment declares that, “The right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted that statement to mean that individuals have a right to keep arms in their homes for self-defense. One might assume that, if the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep arms, it must guarantee an individual right to bear them as well. Sadly, however, the 2nd Circuit doesn’t see it that way.