Thursday, September 28, 2023

Supreme Court to Deliberate on Ammunition Background Check Challenge


A legal challenge against New York’s ammunition background check will be deliberated in a Supreme Court conference on October 6. The case in question, Gazzola v. Hochul, was initiated by two gun stores situated in New York and contests the state’s protocol for ammunition background inspections and annual examinations of gun shops by the New York State Police. These regulations were enacted during a distinct session in 2022 summoned by Governor Kathy Hochul, in which restrictions on concealing firearms in public places were also established.

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This session was organized as a reaction to a preceding Supreme Court ruling, New York Pistol and Rifle Association v. Bruen, which declared a New York “shall issue” law unconstitutional. The newly instated laws from this session have since sparked multiple lawsuits, including Antonyuk v. Hochul, which challenge specific provisions in the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA).

The appellants in the case argue that the enactment of this new law and the imposition of annual inspections of firearm dealerships by the State Police overstep New York State’s legal authority. They also maintain that the obligatory background checks for ammunition purchases are excessive.

The appellants sought an initial injunction from both the District Court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and prior to the law’s enactment, solicited Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the Supreme Court to intervene. However, Justice Sotomayor rejected the appellants' urgent petition, permitting another Justice to possibly accept it. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas chose to proceed with the petition, enabling a full Supreme Court examination on October 6 to determine whether to hear the case. Nonetheless, a conference review does not guarantee a Supreme Court hearing; the Justices may opt to allow further deliberations in the lower courts.

Paloma A. Capanna, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, expressed eagerness to learn the outcomes of the Justices’ deliberations and hopes for a Supreme Court hearing, asserting her belief in the law’s unconstitutionality. 

Governor Hochul, however, seemed to conflate Gazzola v. Hochul with another case, Antonyuk, speculating that Justice Thomas was focusing on undermining New York’s concealed carry regulations, although Gazzola specifically pertains to ammunition background checks and inspections.

Governor Hochul criticized the Justices, suggesting they are catering to their backers and asserting that the existing law persists in the state, with preparations underway to counteract any further impediments.

The fate of the case will be decided by the Supreme Court on October 6, with the law staying in effect until then.

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