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Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments Nov. 3 Over NRA-Backed Challenge to NY Gun Law

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  • The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Nov. 3 in a major Second Amendment case that centers on whether the Constitution guarantees the right to carry guns outside the home.
  • The century-old New York law being challenged requires some applicants to demonstrate "proper cause" to receive licenses to carry a concealed handgun in public.
  • Lower courts had upheld the law over the objections of the challengers, who argued that those rules violate the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Nov. 3 in a major Second Amendment case that centers on whether the Constitution guarantees the right to carry guns outside the home, the court's calendar said Monday.

The justices had announced in April that they would consider the National Rifle Association-backed challenge to a century-old New York law, which requires some applicants to demonstrate "proper cause" to receive licenses to carry a concealed handgun in public.

Lower courts had upheld the law over the objections of the challengers, who argued that those rules violate the Second Amendment. Pro-gun advocates say similar laws are in place in numerous other states.

"Repetition of an error does not cure the error; it just heightens the need for this Court's review," said the appeal for the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The arguments will be heard this fall by a high court that leans conservative, with six of the nine justices having been appointed by Republicans.

The decision to elevate the case may be a consequence of the dramatic shift in the court's ideological makeup under Republican former President Donald Trump, who appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The most recent major Supreme Court decisions on guns came more than a decade earlier, when court held that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to carry a gun for self-defense inside the home. 

Last year, the court declined to issue a substantial ruling in another case about gun regulations in New York, which has some of the strictest such rules in the country.

The case being heard in November stems from a lawsuit brought in 2018 by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, two New York residents whose applications to carry guns in public for self-defense reasons had been denied.

The licensing officer denied the requests by Nash and Koch, saying they "did not demonstrate a special need for self-defense that distinguished [them] from the general public."

A federal judge in Syracuse in December 2018 dismissed a legal challenge to New York's rules, saying, "Nash and Koch do not satisfy the 'proper cause' requirement because they do not 'face any special or unique danger to [their] life.'"

A federal appeals court upheld the lower court's decision not to grant the men the licenses they sought.

The petition for the Supreme Court to review the case argues that the appellate ruling upholding the New York law was "untenable."

"In its view, the Second Amendment may protect a fundamental, individual right of the 'people,' but the state may fundamentally and individually dictate which people (if any) may exercise that right," said the petition.

That appeal to the high court was written by Paul Clement, who served as solicitor general under former President George W. Bush.

New York Attorney General Letitia James had argued in February that the Supreme Court should decline to take up the case.

"The law is consistent with the historical scope of the Second Amendment and directly advances New York's compelling interests in public safety and crime prevention," James wrote in the opposing brief.

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