In our February 7, 2019 blog post entitled Supreme Court Update, we reported on the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, No. 18-280 (hereinafter “NYSRPA”). NYSRPA is a case from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in which the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association challenged New York City’s restrictions on transporting a licensed, unloaded, cased-for-transport handgun to a home or shooting range located outside the city limits. While the Court’s most recent action in the case is no longer “fresh” news, we want to update you on it, because it enables the Court to directly address more far-reaching Second Amendment violations like the adoption of so-called “assault firearms” bans.
On April 27, 2020, the Supreme Court terminated as moot its review of the plaintiff Association’s request for declaratory and injunctive relief banning the city’s enforcement of the law, because while the case was pending in the Supreme Court, the City of New York amended the law to allow citizens to transport handguns to a home or shooting range outside the city.
We are not disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to cease review of the lower courts’ denial of injunctive and declaratory relief, because the New York City law under review, while unconstitutional, did not provide the Court with a good opportunity to directly address and resolve the most important Second Amendment issues facing the country today. For example, earlier this year, the Commonwealth of Virginia attempted to pass a ban on so-called “assault firearms,” which failed in the Virginia Senate. Virginia’s proposed ban encompassed commonly-owned and used single-shot, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and standard-capacity magazines used with them and with commonly-owned semi-automatic handguns. The failed bill(s) may be revived in a special legislative session that has been called for August 2020 or, if not, are likely to be re-introduced in the Virginia General Assembly’s 2021 session.
If Virginia passes its proposed assault firearms ban, the law will be open to a constitutional challenge which addresses the fundamental reason for passage of the Second Amendment: To enable individual citizens to take up arms against their own government – if the government ceases adherence to the Constitution – on at least a minimally equal footing with the government’s forces. This is a highly controversial and seldom-ventilated issue in Second Amendment case law, but one that Stephen L. Sulzer PLLC and the NFLI are fully equipped to address when the need arises. (See “Look Out Below” – our January 8, 2019 blog entry – for an important exposition on this aspect of the Second Amendment.)
Virginia’s adoption of its proposed assault firearms ban would enable the Supreme Court to directly address the full scope of (and fundamental reasons for) the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the people’s right to possess and carry commonly-owned and used firearms, including single-shot, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and standard-capacity magazines used with them and with commonly-owned semi-automatic handguns, which Virginia seeks to ban.
Stay tuned for further developments.