Supreme Court appears cautious in case of terminated New York City gun law

Dec. 1 (UPI) — Arguments Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning a former New York City gun law indicated that justices on the high court bench might be inclined to dismissed the case as moot.

The direction of questions during oral arguments from the court’s liberal justices, as well as from Chief Justice John Roberts, revealed little appetite for expanding the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, legal analysts said.

Gun advocates hoped a ruling against the superseded New York City regulation — which barred gun owners from taking firearms outside city limits — would set a precedent for judges weighing the public interest as part of the rulings on gun laws. Opponents feared such a decision would make it much harder to enact new gun control laws.

Instead of addressing such politically charged issues, the majority of the court’s questions Monday centered on whether it’s proper to consider the case since the city subsequently rescinded the regulation and the state of New York passed legislation barring its revival.

“You’re asking us to opine on a law that’s not on the books anymore,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor told attorney Paul Clement, who represented three gun owners and the National Rifle Association.

Roberts, meanwhile, asked whether gun owners could still seek damages if the high court were to find the case moot.

Monday’s hearing represented the first time in about a decade the Supreme Court agreed to weigh in on Second Amendment rights. The rescinded New York law barred licensed gun owners from taking their handguns to shooting competitions, gun ranges and second homes outside city limits. It was challenged by a trio of residents who argued it violated the Second Amendment rights and was not a safety issue.

The law was upheld by a federal appeals court, but the city repealed it and passed a new law that ensures licensed owners can take their weapons to any location where they are permitted by law to have one.

New York State, New York City and multiple gun safety advocacy groups asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the case as moot in light of the changes, but it declined.

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, had said the group was confident the high court would reject the city’s attempt to avoid a review.

The Supreme Court has declined to rule on gun rights cases since ruling in 2008 the Second Amendment protects keeping guns at home for self defense, and a 2010 clarification that said the right was valid nationwide.