Can New Yorkers carry guns? A 700 year-old law may inform Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decision

Can New Yorkers carry guns? A 700 year-old law may inform Supreme Court's Second Amendment decision

The Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2018. WASHINGTON – When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in a closely watched guns case the discussion won’t start with the last landmark ruling on firearms from 2010 or even with the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791. Instead, attorneys on both sides will likely reach back to a 700-year-old English law – and a debate over the influence it had on the framing of the Constitution. At issue for the high court is whether New York may require residents to have a good reason to obtain a license to carry a handgun – a question with ramifications for gun laws nationwide. To find an answer, the justices are expected to look closely at the “history and tradition” of the right to bear arms, including before the nation’s founding. That has drawn both sides of the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, into an intense battle over a statute from 1328 that some historians say informed the Framers’ views of when people may carry their guns in public. The Statute of Northampton regulated the carrying of “arms” in public places. “The reason why we’re digging around in the reign of King Edward III is because the court has said you know the scope of the right by reference to the history that surrounds it,” said Darrell Miller, co-director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University. “That is turning every constitutional scholar into an antiquarian.” […]

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