Where Things Stand: Just A Reminder That SCOTUS Is Poised To Loosen New York’s Gun Restrictions

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13: A subway conductor watches the platform at a Brooklyn subway station a day after a man shot numerous people on a Manhattan bound train in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Apr... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13: A subway conductor watches the platform at a Brooklyn subway station a day after a man shot numerous people on a Manhattan bound train in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 13, 2022 in New York City. A manhunt is underway for a gunman who shot 10 people, critically injuring five on the N train during Tuesday's morning rush hour. The suspect, wearing a gas mask, tossed smoke grenades on the floor and fired 33 shots before leaving the scene. At least 13 other commuters suffered injuries due to smoke inhalation, falls, and panic attacks. The police on Tuesday evening named a "person of interest" in the mass shooting and believe that they have found his personal belongings left on the train that includes a Glock 9-millimeter handgun and a key to a U-Haul van. Mayor Eric Adams this morning announced that Frank James, the "person of interest" is now considered a suspect. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) MORE LESS

The suspected shooter who fired a gun inside a New York City MTA train car in Brooklyn yesterday was arrested this afternoon after a 24 hour-plus manhunt. The man is suspected of releasing smoke grenades inside the moving train and firing a gun 33 times, shooting 10 people and injuring 29 others. None of the victims have died.

The attack roiled New York on Tuesday, the realization of a nightmare scenario in a city that relies heavily on its massive and largely underground transit system.

The attack also highlights at least one concern that Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Elena Kagan vocalized during oral arguments last year while hearing a challenge to New York state’s gun restrictions. Allowing concealed weapons in the very dense New York City metropolitan area, they quite reasonably theorized, presents a credible threat to public safety.

The court is poised to rule on that case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, sometime this summer. The case is a challenge backed by pro-gun groups to New York state’s current, relatively strict concealed carry laws; the state mandates that applicants for a license prove why they think they need a concealed weapon on their person. The challenge was brought by two upstate New Yorkers who were not granted unrestricted concealed carry licensees — though both of the men involved in the case were granted restricted licenses, which allow them to carry for specific purposes, like hunting, target practice and driving to and from work.

During oral arguments, state gun rights advocates and some justices suggested that the law is unconstitutional because it asks applicants to explain themselves in a manner that is not required of those seeking to use other constitutional rights, such as those outlined in the First Amendment. Court watchers have predicted that this uber-conservative Supreme Court may well strike down the law, which was adopted in New York in 1911. That, in turn, could mean more concealed weapons across the state, and, concerningly, across the city.

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Roberts signaled an openness to at least considering the ramifications of overturning the law, specifically on how it might impact public safety in the city. In what turned into a “sensitive places” discussion, Roberts listed off a number of examples of situations where an expanded concealed carry law might present serious danger — university campuses, sports arenas, anywhere where alcohol is served.

Kagan backed him up: “What the Chief Justice is trying to do is figure out how those cash out in the real world. So I’ll give you a few more. New York City subways.”

There are, of course, enough conservatives on the bench to form a majority even without Roberts.

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