17 states pile on to Supreme Court case over NYC gun law

A group of states from across the country is backing a challenge to New York City’s restrictive gun laws.

The group, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, filed a brief last week in the pending request for cert of three NYC gun owners– Romolo Colantone, Efrain Alvarez, and Jose Anthony Irizarry– who argue the city’s “premises permit” scheme, which drastically restricts the ability to leave one’s premises with a firearm, is unconstitutional.

The gun owners are licensed to have handguns on their residence or business but under current law can only leave with them to go to a shooting range inside the city or to go hunting. They have long argued to the court that this precluded them from such basic freedoms as taking their gun to a range in another city or to a second home upstate. Landry agrees.

“The restrictive policies memorialized in New York City’s ‘premises permit’ scheme unduly burdens the Second Amendment rights held by all Americans,” said Landry. “Criminalizing travel with a securely stored firearm creates an imbalance in our federal system that weighs against lawful exercise of the Second Amendment inside and outside of New York City.”

Landry is joined in the brief by attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin while the Republican governors of Mississippi and Kentucky have also signed on.

Two other briefs have been filed in favor of the plaintiffs by law enforcement lobby groups spearheaded by the Western States Sheriffs’ Association and a variety of pro-gun groups to include Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, The Heller Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, and Restoring Liberty Action Committee.

Colantone, Alvarez, and Irizarry are allied with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and took city officials to court in 2014, arguing the restrictive license forces gun owners to leave firearms in sometimes unoccupied buildings for long periods of time– such as in cases where they are at another home or out-of-town– and forces them to exclusively use the city’s few ranges, most of which are private clubs with comparatively high fees when compared to ranges outside of the City. Police countered the men’s argument by saying the ban on transporting even unloaded weapons promotes public safety by limiting the presence of handguns on city streets.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet, an appointment by President Jimmy Carter, rejected the case in favor of the city in 2015 and a panel for the 2nd U.S. Circuit this February affirmed his decision contending the restrictions on-premises licenses do not violate the Second Amendment. The panel held that the license holders could always purchase a second gun for a second home or business rather than transport one firearm back and forth and, despite the argument that the in-city ranges were more expensive, they were still locally available to the gun owners and, when traveling outside of the city to shooting competitions, guns can be rented or borrowed for that purpose.

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