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Supreme Court Reporters: Justices’ Questions Suggest Hesitation About Issuing a Broad Ruling on Guns


In the coverage of Wednesday’s oral argument in NYSRPA v. Bruen, a number of journalists covering the Supreme Court noted that some of the justices’ questions reflected apparent skepticism about issuing a broad ruling that would put at range a wide range of gun laws. Prominent examples included:

Reuters (emphasis added):

“While appearing united in their skepticism about the constitutionality of the state’s law, some of the conservative justices expressed concern about how a ruling invalidating it might affect prohibitions on guns in sensitive places such as schools, sports stadiums and crowded public gatherings.”

The New York Times (emphasis added):

“The law requires people seeking a license to carry a handgun in public to show a “proper cause,” and a majority of the justices seemed prepared to say that it imposes an intolerable burden on the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. But several justices seemed open to allowing the state to exclude guns from crowded public settings or other sensitive places.

SCOTUSBlog  (emphasis added):

“When Wednesday’s oral argument in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen drew to a close after roughly two hours of debate, it seemed likely that New York’s 108-year-old handgun-licensing law is in jeopardy. But the justices’ eventual ruling might be a narrow one focused on the New York law (and others like it), saving broader questions on the right to carry a gun outside the home for later.”

In a statement Wednesday, Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law, noted that the oral argument “made clear that even the court’s most conservative justices have hesitations about granting the gun lobby its ultimate goal in this case – the unrestricted right to carry guns in all public places at all times.” Everytown Law’s full statement is here.

Everytown filed an amicus brief in September, defending the constitutionality of New York’s law, as did prominent conservative former government officials and legal experts, former national security officials, and faith leaders, among others. Everytown also published an analysis calling into question claims made by the petitioners about a seemingly minor issue of historical fact that they placed significant weight on – whether prominent members of the founding generation carried firearms.

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