What To Know Today
Justices appear skeptical of New York’s concealed carry law — but not necessarily gun permits more broadly. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. v. Bruen challenges New York’s “may-issue” law, which requires people applying for handgun licenses to demonstrate a pressing need to carry. The state residents who brought the NRA-backed case were granted gun licenses for hunting and sports, but not unrestricted concealed carry for self-defense. Several Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism during Wednesday’s oral arguments about the scope of the law and the discretion it affords to licensing officials. At the same time, justices including John Roberts and Amy Coney Barrett asked whether it could be appropriate for the state to restrict firearms in specific places, like in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, at protests, or on school campuses. Overall, the Court didn’t seem to question the concept of gun carry permits in general, and the counsel for the plaintiffs said he was only arguing against New York’s “may-issue” law. The tenor of Wednesday’s questions suggest that that members of the 6-3 conservative court are leaning toward invalidating New York’s statute. But whether they issue a more sweeping ruling that would change the landscape on public carrying in other states is an open question. In D.C. vs. Heller, the Court held that the Second Amendment conferred an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in the home, but hasn’t said whether that extends to carrying in public.
NEW from THE TRACE: The NRA paid a gun rights activist to file SCOTUS briefs. He didn’t disclose it to the court. The NRA Foundation paid David Kopel to write the favorable amicus briefs, suggests a hacked document released on the dark web last week. Since 2019, Kopel has submitted two briefs backing an NRA affiliate in cases before the court, including yesterday’s case. The briefs did not disclose the funding, allowing the NRA to buttress its affiliate’s arguments while concealing the effort from judges and the public. “This is personally the most direct evidence I have ever seen that an interested party has potentially funded the preparation and submission of amicus briefs,” one expert told Will Van Sant. You can read his piece here.
New White House suicide prevention plan places special focus on firearms. On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced new steps to prevent suicide across the United States. Included in that plan:
- An inter-agency strategy to curb veteran suicide through gun safety. A new report tasks six agencies with creating a plan for public awareness education, training, and program evaluation, including new PSAs, advertising for suicide prevention, and expanded state gun storage maps for people who want to temporarily part with their guns.
- Finalizing a DOJ rule to make safe gun storage more accessible. The action will complete a 2016 rule proposal from the ATF clarifying what legal obligations gun dealers have for providing people access to gun safety and storage devices. The ATF will also issue a best practices guide to federal firearms licensees about steps they should and must take to encourage gun safety among their customers.
Baltimore renews ShotSpotter contract. The Board of Estimates voted for the $759,500 extension with the gunshot detection technology company. Though it has the support of the city’s police chief, ShotSpotter has come under fire elsewhere over concerns about accuracy and its effects on overpolicing in largely Black neighborhoods. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said at the hearing he was the “biggest skeptic” of ShotSpotter, but said instances in which alerts led police to shooting victims when 911 wasn’t called made it worth extending the contract another year. The police department said that between 2018 and this June, it received 8,529 ShotSpotter alerts, 1,725 of which led to evidence of a shooting; in 804 of those cases, police found a shooting victim. The city has seen over 300 homicides for six straight years.
11 — the number of white jurors out of 12 picked to hear the murder trial of three white men charged in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. The remaining juror in the trial, which is set to open tomorrow, is Black. [The Atlanta-Journal Constitution]