The U.S. Supreme Court stepped back into the heated debate over gun rights on Monday, agreeing to hear a challenge backed by the National Rifle Association to New York state’s restrictions on people carrying concealed handguns in public.
The justices will take up an appeal by two gun owners and the New York affiliate of the NRA, an influential gun rights group closely aligned with Republicans, of a lower court ruling throwing out their challenge to the restrictions on concealed handguns outside the home.
Lower courts rejected the argument made by the plaintiffs that the restrictions violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The lawsuit sought an unfettered right to carry concealed handguns in public.
The case could lead to the most consequential ruling on the scope of the Second Amendment in more than a decade.
A state firearms licensing officer had granted the two men “concealed carry” permits but restricted them to hunting and target practice, prompting the legal challenge.
The court’s 6-3 conservative majority is seen as sympathetic to an expansive view of Second Amendment rights.
The debate over gun control in the United States has intensified in the wake of a spate of recent mass shootings, including one at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis on April 15 in which a gunman killed eight employees and then himself, and two in March in less than a week – one in Georgia and the other in Colorado – that left a total of 18 people dead.