by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The lawyer defending New York City in a Second Amendment case on Monday admitted to the Supreme Court that the city’s gun restrictions had no impact on public safety and that gun rights extend beyond the home.
During oral arguments for New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York City, city attorney Richard Dearing told Justice Samuel Alito that a city regulation governing where gun owners could carry their firearms did not make residents safer. He said New York police determined “The rule could be repealed without a negative impact on public safety” before the state rolled it back. He went on to concede that the Second Amendment applies beyond the home, a core question at issue in the case.
“What I’m conceding is that, in the case of a premises license, the Second Amendment has something to say about what effective possession in the home means,” Dearing told Alito during oral arguments. “And sometimes that may mean … that a license holder needs to be able to undertake certain activities outside the home.”
The comments from Dearing may weigh on how the case concludes. If the Court does not declare the case moot, as it still might, it could rule that the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms outside the home. Such a decision would be a significant follow-up to the ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 case that paved the way for Second Amendment challenges at the Supreme Court.