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                  Resarh Service

The Future of the Second Amendment: New

York State Rifle & Pistol Association at the

Supreme Court

May 15, 2020
On April 27, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a two-page per curiam (unsigned) opinion in New York
State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. City of New York, effectively dismissing a case that had been
poised to clarify the Court's Second Amendment jurisprudence. As described in previous Legal Sidebars,
the case involved a portion of New York City's (NYC's or the City's) firearms licensing scheme that the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Second Circuit) upheld as valid. The Supreme Court's per
curiam opinion did not address whether the firearm licensing provision at issue violated the Second
Amendment, however. Instead, the Court concluded that intervening changes in law gave the plaintiffs in
the lawsuit the precise relief' they had requested, rendering the case moot. It thus appears that for the
time being, case law concerning the scope of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms could
continue to develop in the lower courts without further High Court guidance. Nevertheless, in separate
concurring and dissenting opinions, four Justices signaled concern that the Supreme Court's Second
Amendment precedents are not being properly applied and suggested that the Court may need to weigh in
to rectify the situation. As such, although New York State Rifle & Pistol Association did not result in a
substantive constitutional decision, it is possible that the Court will issue such a decision in another case
in the near future.
This Legal Sidebar provides an overview of Second Amendment doctrine; summarizes the facts and
history of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association case; discusses the Supreme Court's per curiam,
concurring, and dissenting opinions in the case; and briefly addresses implications of the decision going

Second Amendment Overview
The Second Amendment provides in full: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a
free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. In its 2008 decision in
District of Columbia v. Heller, a five-Justice majority of the Supreme Court held that the Amendment
protects an individual right to possess firearms for historically lawful purposes and struck down
regulations that effectively banned the private possession of operative handguns in the home, emphasizing

                                                                Congressional Research Service

CF-S LegM Sideba
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