On December 2, 2019, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York. The case involves now-repealed New York City regulations limiting the locations to which holders of a “premises license” could transport their handguns both within and outside of the city. Restrictions as strict as New York City’s old rule do not exist anywhere else in the United States, nor is there an effort to implement similar regulations anywhere. Despite this — and the fact that the rules are now repealed — the NRA is hoping to use this case to roll back gun safety legislation nationwide. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association is the New York State affiliate of the NRA.
Despite the cold and rain, hundreds of gun safety advocates showed up that morning to rally in front of the Court to send the message that gun laws save lives. I had the honor of representing the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and shared the following remarks:
I’m here representing NCJW’s 90,000 advocates and supporters across the country who work every day, every week, and every year, year after to year, to keep their communities safe from senseless gun violence. We are guided in this work by the Jewish value of kavod ha bri’ot: respect and dignity for all human beings — we have an obligation to care for and to protect our neighbors.
And, throughout our history, we’ve done just that: From California’s Proposition 63 comprehensive package of gun safety reforms to Washington state, where we helped pass gun sense ballot initiatives to two sets of gun violence prevention measures in New Jersey over the last two years. And so much more.
In the wake of federal inaction, states are leading the way to save lives. There is overwhelming public support for gun safety laws — in 2018, a record 67 new gun safety laws in 26 states and DC were enacted. And, we know they work. Study after study has shown that legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tends to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to firearms can save lives.
Yet, the NRA wants to use this case before the Court today to challenge and roll back hundreds of gun safety laws across the country. Let me be clear: Every gun safety law is at risk, including laws requiring background checks on gun sales, laws regulating who can carry guns in public and where they can carry them, laws regulating large-capacity magazines and assault weapons, and even laws denying criminals, domestic abusers, and others at a high risk of violence access to firearms.
News flash: America has a gun violence problem. Our movie theaters, places of worship, schools, streets, concerts, football games, and homes are not safe.
And, the public supports doing something about it. We have made tremendous progress at the ballot box and in state legislatures. And, appellate courts around the country, which hear the majority of these cases, have found that these life-saving measures are consistent with the Constitution, American history, and the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision. Indeed, federal courts are the backstop for all of the constitutional rights that we hold dear, including the right to live free from gun violence.
And, now, the NRA wants the Supreme Court to roll back all of that progress and more.
You know what I say? Gun Laws Save Lives. Say it with me: Gun Laws Save Lives.
The NRA’s extreme approach threatens our constitutional rights, our lives, and public safety — and the Supreme Court must reject this attempt to roll back gun safety laws that save lives.