The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in its first major Second Amendment case in close to a decade, Fox News reported. The high court is considering New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, a case in which New York City attempted to restrict licensed gun owners from transporting licensed handguns anywhere but to a handful of shooting ranges within its jurisdiction.
Once the Supreme Court expressed interest in the case in January, the city swiftly moved to repeal the controversial provisions in July and permitted gun owners to transport their weapons to locations beyond the city’s five boroughs, according to USA Today.
New York state also passed a statute prohibiting cities from implementing regulations similar to the challenged restrictions. Lawmakers and gun control advocates were hoping that the high court would decline to hear the case for mootness after those changes were made, but that has not occurred.
“There is no case or controversy because New York City has repealed the ordinance and the New York State Legislature has acted to make sure it remains repealed,” said Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of the gun control group Brady’s Legal Alliance.
The court has become much more conservative since the last significant gun case was heard in 2010, due to the appointment and confirmation of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
The newly-conservative court has not dismissed the case thus far, despite the city’s frantic efforts to render it moot.
Lawyer Paul Clement, who represents three New York residents and the New York NRA affiliate challenging the original ban, maintains that New York City “still views firearm ownership as a privilege and not a fundamental right, and is still in the business of limiting transport and denying licenses for a host of discretionary reasons.”
Oral arguments on Monday seemed to suggest that the high court’s four liberal justices do not believe they have jurisdiction to hear the case, and Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to agree.
Justices Samuel Alito and Gorsuch, however, indicated an eagerness for this particular case to serve as a vehicle for the court to review the true and proper scope of the Second Amendment, according to CNBC.
If the justices decide not to hear this case involving gun rights, there will undoubtedly be another one in the near future that will test their resolve on this issue.
The conservative composition of the current court is likely to remain in place for a significant number of years, something which could impact future interpretations of the Second Amendment as well as prior precedents of particular interest to countless Americans, potentially including Roe v. Wade.
It expected that the court will not render a decision in the New York case until late June.