The Supreme Court on Monday has dismissed a dispute challenging New York City’s gun transportation restrictions because the justices ruled the controversy was no longer live after the city repealed those rules.
The justices’ decision to not consider the dispute over the Second Amendment is expected to disappoint gun owners and activists, who had anticipated a major ruling in the case amid heightened tensions about gun rights.
The majority in the 6-3 unsigned opinion said the case was rendered moot after New York City rescinded its rule that restricted gun owners from transporting licensed handguns to any location outside city limits such as an out-of-city shooting range or a second home after the top court agreed to take up the case in early 2019.
The city argues that the transport ban promotes public safety by limiting the presence of handguns on city streets. The ban also forces residents to leave behind their handguns in vacant homes when traveling out of town, which arguably poses a greater safety risk.
The court on Monday declined to hear the gun owner’s claims but sent the case back to the lower courts to decide on whether they could seek damages in respect to the city’s previous gun restrictions or make claims against the new rules.
Justice Samuel Alito dissented, arguing that the case was not moot and that the city had violated the gun owner’s second amendment. He was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
“The City’s public safety arguments were weak on their face, were not substantiated in any way, and were accepted below with no serious probing. And once we granted review in this case, the City’s public safety concerns evaporated,” Alito wrote.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who wrote a concurring opinion, agreed with the majority that the case was moot but agreed with parts of Alito’s analysis, saying that some federal and state courts may not have properly applied Supreme Court decisions that recognize the right to keep and bear arms.
“The Court should address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court,” Kavanaugh wrote.