This week, a Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP team led by Jacqueline Wolff, and including Benjamin Shatz and Matthew Bruno, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of the New York County Lawyers Association, one of the largest bar associations in the country, in a pending Second Amendment case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Kevin P. Bruen, in his official capacity as Superintendent New York State Police. The case concerns New York’s concealed carry regulations, which require a showing of proper cause before a concealed carry permit can be issued. Petitioners had, in fact, been granted concealed carry permits for self-defense, as well as for recreational use, but based on the showing they made, the permits excluded the ability to carry in populous areas. Petitioners’ brought their case arguing that the proper cause requirement violates the Second Amendment and that, under the Second Amendment, they should be able to obtain a concealed carry permit that would allow them to carry weapons anywhere they choose. That would include highly populated areas.
The case was initially dismissed by the Northern District of New York in 2018. Petitioners appealed to the Second Circuit, which affirmed the dismissal in 2020. Petitioners won Supreme Court review and the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on November 3, 2021.
Manatt’s brief, which supports Respondents, underscored that the core right of people to protect themselves identified in Heller is implicated only marginally, if at all, by a law that rationally limits the circumstances under which guns can be carried outside one’s home or business, such as on subways, buses, crowded city streets, and public parks and buildings—including in the vicinity of courthouses and government buildings—by requiring a showing of proper cause.
The amicus brief explains the wide-ranging implications and threat to public safety and to the workings of the judicial system—particularly in populous areas—were the Court to allow the concealed carrying of weapons without a showing of proper cause. Specifically, the brief highlights the rise in gun violence in and around courthouses and to judges, attorneys, litigants and even innocent bystanders when highly emotional matters such as child custody or sentencing matters are before the courts. The introduction of firearms to this already volatile mix, would significantly increase the risks.
As noted in the brief, matters involving protection of its citizenry are best left to those who know the workings of the community—“just like Texas is Texas, New York is New York”—and “New York’s decision over a century ago to adopt a “proper cause” licensing scheme reflects the State’s well-founded concern regarding the safety of its populace – an interest recognized in Heller.”
Manatt’s brief asked the Supreme Court to “[i]magine a New York City where concealed weapons are ubiquitous….a hot, muggy afternoon in Times Square where armed strangers collide with one another ….” The brief concludes: “The Constitution does not compel transforming Broadway, Times Square, or Foley Square into the O.K. Corral.”
Read the full brief here.