WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy joined gun violence prevention advocates and gun violence survivors Monday on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Justices were hearing oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, the first major Second Amendment case to go before the Court in nearly a decade.
The case, brought by the New York state affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA), challenges the ability of licensed gun owners to transport their guns to shooting ranges or second homes outside the city.
“They’re going to try to get the courts to protect them, because the voters won’t protect them any longer,” Murphy said. “Because we – for the first time in a long time – we the anti-gun violence movement, are finally stronger than the gun lobby is.”
Murphy went on: “That’s why we’re flipping seats all over the country. That’s why we have these guys running for the hills, retiring in droves. And we aren’t going to stop because here’s what I know as a student of history, that the great social change movements are not the ones that gave up when they hit an obstacle. They are not the ones that went home when they hit a bump in the road.”
New York City’s regulation was amended in July to remove some of the restrictions at issue in the case, but the Supreme Court opted to proceed with arguments. The justices have said they will consider the city’s contention that the change in the regulation has made the matter moot.
Gun control advocates have expressed concern that the court, with a 5-4 conservative majority, could use the legal battle over a now-loosened gun control regulation unique to one city to issue a ruling widening gun rights nationwide.
Advocates fear such a ruling could jeopardize a variety of firearms restrictions passed in recent years by state and local governments across the country, including expanded background checks and confiscation of weapons from individuals who a court has deemed dangerous.
“And so this radical agenda to try to take away our ability to protect our kids – and I dropped off my kids this morning at public elementary schools that do active shooter drills, readying for what kids believe today is the inevitability that they are going to get shot at – they want to take our right away to make change to pass laws that actually make our streets safer, that prevent the kind of episodic gun violence that plagues American cities,” Murphy said. “They want to take that right away and we’re not going to let them do that.”
Murphy was joined by others like U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The Supreme Court case centers on New York City’s handgun “premises” licenses that allowed holders to transport their firearms only to a handful of shooting ranges within the city, and to hunting areas elsewhere in the state during designated hunting seasons.
Three local handgun owners and the New York state affiliate of the NRA argued that the regulation violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The plaintiffs filed suit in 2013 after they were told by authorities they could not participate in a shooting competition in New Jersey or bring their guns to a home elsewhere in the state. The Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the regulation advanced the city’s interest in protecting public safety and did not violate the Second Amendment.
New York City officials argued that controlling guns in public takes on particular urgency in the most densely populated urban center in the United States, where the potential for violence, accidents, or thefts is heightened.
The Supreme Court had avoided taking up a major firearms case since 2010 when it cleared up any uncertainty in the landmark 2008 case, District of Columbia v. Heller. In 2010, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, it held that the Second Amendment protected the individual right to keep guns for the purpose of self-defense in the home.
Defenders of the Second Amendment have said that the history and tradition of the Second Amendment makes clear that the right extends beyond the home. Gun violence prevention advocates disagree.
The court ruling is due by the end of June.
Meanwhile, the seven-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown is fast approaching.
In an effort to continue to shine a light on the devastating epidemic of gun violence in the U.S., the Newtown Foundation (TNF), the charitable arm of the Newtown Action Alliance (NAA), and more than 90 partners in the gun violence prevention community will host the 7th annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence.
The annual national vigil service of mourning and loving remembrance for all who have fallen victim to the ongoing American epidemic of gun violence will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at St. Marks Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill in Washington. This service will anchor the Nationwide Vigils & Events to #EndGunViolence during the month of December.
As of today, there are 89 local vigils and events being planned in 30 states. The list of Nationwide Vigils & Events to #EndGunViolence can be found at www.newtownfoundation.org.