Four men in Washington D.C. with concealed handgun permits have filed a federal lawsuit against the nation’s capital for legally carrying firearms on the subway transit system, arguing that a recent ruling of the United States Supreme Court which struck down a New York law grants them permission to carry their weapons on public transport.
The lawsuit filed in the United States District Court on June 30 cites a decision of the nation’s high court, released days earlier on June 23, which ruled against a century-old New York law requiring handgun owners to show “just cause” in order to obtain a license for carry a concealed weapon in public.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court’s conservative majority, argued that laws banning concealed weapons in public spaces must “demonstrate that the regulation is consistent” with a “historic tradition of gun regulation”, and determined that New York law violates the Second Amendment and the 14th Amendment “by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to hold and bear arms in public”.
Washington DC prohibits people with concealed carry permits from bringing firearms into “sensitive areas,” including schools and government buildings, as well as the city’s public transit system. The lawsuit argues that the subway should not be considered a “sensitive area.”
The plaintiffs say “there is no tradition or history of banning the carrying of firearms on public transit vehicles” and “no reason to label the subway a sensitive area.”
The legal challenge is the first of a long series that will probably arise following New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc vs. Bruen. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar “just cause” requirements.
In his dissent in the New York case, Judge Stephen Breyer argued that it is both “constitutionally appropriate” and “necessary” for courts to consider the “serious dangers and consequences of gun violence” that compel states to regulate guns before shooting them down.
He condemned the majority’s decision for reaching its conclusion “without first permitting the development of an evidentiary record and without considering the compelling state interest in preventing gun violence.”
On Friday, New York passed its own restrictions on guns in public spaces, including public transit, parks, hospitals, stadiums and Times Square, among others, with Governor Kathy Hochul pledging ” no turning back” following the Supreme Court’s decision. .
In 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller, which is quoted throughout in the Supreme Court’s latest firearms ruling, the court ruled against the city’s law banning handgun ownership in DC, pointing to Second Amendment protections for the right to bear arms while arguing that jurisdictions can enact and regulate gun restrictions.