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Supreme Court allows NY ‘sensitive location’ gun bans for the moment

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New York City declared the popular Times Square area a 'gun free zone' in September, a move that sparked challenges by firearms rights advocates./AFP
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Jan 12, 2023 - 10:32 AM

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court allowed New York to continue instituting gun bans in sensitive areas like schools and busy public spaces while a lower court battle mounts over the state’s firearms laws.

Almost seven months after the high court’s landmark ruling overturning New York City’s highly restrictive gun carry rule, the justices rejected a petition to freeze the state’s revised regulations on location-based personal firearms bans.

But their action meant the national battle over restrictions over guns in public would continue to fester, even as gun owners appeared to have the upper hand.

Even while defending the constitutional right “to keep and bear arms,” justices in the conservative-dominated high court in June had vaguely indicated there could be specific exceptions.

During arguments several acknowledged that there could be sensitive areas like schools that could be subject to gun restrictions.

After that ruling, New York’s legislature moved to permit blanket bans on weapons in bars, libraries, schools, government buildings, hospitals, and vulnerable, heavily trafficked locations like New York City’s iconic Times Square.

Pro-gun groups and individuals challenged the new law as impinging on gun rights and convinced a lower state court to place a stay, or temporary block, on it, until their cases are heard.

The state appealed to a federal appeals court where the judge overturned the stay.

In Wednesday’s action, the Supreme Court rejected a petition to overturn the appeals court judge, leaving the New York law in effect while the basic cases over it proceed.

However, two conservatives in the Supreme Court made clear they support the challenge to new York’s law.

Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas said in a statement Wednesday that they believed the pro-gun petitioners were likely to prevail in the lower court challenge based on constitutional grounds, and encouraged them to pursue their case.

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