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Supreme Court declines to hear gun-rights case

April 15, 2013|By David G. Savage
  • A U.S. flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.
A U.S. flag flies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a 2nd Amendment challenge to a New York law that strictly limits who can carry a gun in public, leaving states and cities, at least for now, with broad authority to regulate guns outside of homes.

Without comment, the justices let stand an appeals court ruling that interpreted the 2nd Amendment as protecting only the right to have a weapon at home.

The high court’s action leaves in doubt the extent of the individual “right to bear arms” protected by the 2nd Amendment.

In a pair of decisions in 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court struck down ordinances in Washington and Chicago that prohibited all private possession of handguns. However, the justices did not address whether the 2nd Amendment also protected gun owners who want to carry a weapon in public.

Most states allow law-abiding gun owners to obtain a “concealed carry” permit.

However, at least seven states, including New York, California and Illinois, have laws on the books that make it difficult or nearly impossible for gun owners to obtain a permit that allows them to be armed in public.

Those laws are under challenge in the lower courts.

In December, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago struck down the Illinois law as violating the 2nd Amendment. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has pending several 2nd Amendment challenges to the laws by which California counties deny most “concealed carry” permits.

But the New York decision, which the court let stand Monday, says states have broad authority to regulate weapons in public.

Monday’s decision to decline to hear an appeal does not set a legal precedent.


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