Gun Rights Lawyer Tells SCOTUS Concealed Carry Bans in NY Stadiums, Subway May Be OK

A gun rights lawyer who spoke before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday said that it may be acceptable if firearms were banned in some New York City subways and stadiums, the Associated Press reported. SCOTUS began hearing arguments Wednesday as advocates seek to strike down a restrictive law for gun permits in the state, its biggest case on guns in over a decade.

Paul Clement argued on behalf of New York residents that their right to carry a concealed gun should be unrestricted, but he faced questions from both the conservative and liberal justices on the high court. While Chief Justice John Roberts was among those who suggested that the law was too restrictive, he also asked Clement where he thought guns should be barred, such as college campuses and places where alcohol is served.

Clement responded that though firearms may remain off limits in schools and government buildings, bars "might be a tougher case for the government." When probed by Justices Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett, he also conceded that it may be OK if guns were prohibited in the New York City subway system, Yankee Stadium and Times Square on New Year's Eve, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a gun rights case that centers on New York’s restrictive gun permit law and whether limits the state has placed on carrying a gun in public violate the Second Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, as television cameras are set up. Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

The court's liberals seemed willing to allow the state law to remain in place, especially focusing on differences between rural areas and more densely populated cities and suburbs. The law's defenders have said that striking it down will lead to more guns on the streets of cities including New York and Los Angeles.

The court last issued major gun rights decisions in 2008 and 2010. Those decisions established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. The question for the court now has to do with carrying a gun in public for self-defense.

In most of the country, gun owners have little difficulty legally carrying their weapons when they go out. But about half a dozen states, including populous California and several Eastern states, restrict the carrying of guns to those who can demonstrate a particular need for doing so. The justices could decide whether those laws, known as "may issue" laws, can stand.

The arguments come as gun violence has surged. Gun control groups say if a high court ruling requires states to drop restrictions, the result will be more violence. Gun rights groups, meanwhile, say the risk of a confrontation is precisely why they have a right to be armed for self-defense.

The New York law the court is reviewing has been in place since 1913 and says that to carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense, a person applying for a license has to demonstrate "proper cause," an actual need to carry the weapon. Applicants who get a license are either issued an unrestricted license, which gives them broad ability to carry a weapon in public, or a restricted license allowing them to carry a gun in certain circumstances. Those circumstances include for hunting or target shooting, when traveling for work or when in backcountry areas.

New York says if the Supreme Court sides with the challengers to the law, it would have "devastating consequences for public safety," invalidate longstanding laws like New York's and jeopardize firearm restrictions that states and the federal government have in place where people gather, from airports to schools.

The Biden administration, which is urging the justices to uphold New York's law, says California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws that could be affected by a ruling from the court. Connecticut and Delaware also have "may issue" laws, though they are somewhat different.

Gun Rights Advocate
The Supreme Court heard arguments in a gun rights case that centers on New York’s restrictive gun permit law and whether limits the state has placed on carrying a gun in public violate the Second Amendment. Gun rights advocates including the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and two private citizens are challenging the law. NYSRPA President Tom King poses for a photo Oct. 28, 2021, in East Greenbush, N.Y. Hans Pennink/AP Photo