Apr 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court to hear major NRA-backed gun rights case

Supreme Court building
The U.S. Supreme Court on April 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court will hear a major NRA-backed gun rights case on whether New Yorkers can carry concealed handguns while in public.

Why it matters: The challenge to a New York state law restricting the ability of residents to carry concealed handguns in public could result in the most consequential ruling related to the Second Amendment in over a decade. It comes at a politically fraught moment in the national debate over gun control.

Background: The handgun licensing law in New York state has been on the books since 1913, per Vox. People carrying handguns in public must demonstrate "proper cause" in order to have a license, such as hunting or store protection.

  • However, those types of licenses only allow gun owners to use their firearm for that specific purpose.
  • Those who seek an unrestricted license to carry must “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession," according to the law.

The big picture: The court currently holds a 6-3 conservative majority, giving gun rights advocates a potential opportunity for a major victory.

  • The court has not litigated the reach of the Second Amendment since rulings in 2008 and 2010 struck down gun regulations in D.C. and Chicago.
  • The justices will consider "whether the State's denial of petitioners' applications for concealed-carry license for self-defense violated the Second Amendment," the court said on Monday. The case is likely to be heard in the fall.
Go deeper