WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a New York gun control law to remain in effect while a legal challenge against it continues.
The justices kept on hold a federal judge’s ruling that invalidated various provisions of the law. An appeals court had blocked the ruling pending further litigation. The decision suggests the justices will wait before they intervene as lower courts interpret their June ruling, which for the first time found that people have a right to bear arms outside their own homes under the Constitution’s Second Amendment.
There were no public dissenting votes, but conservative Justice Samuel Alito said in a statement attached to the brief order, which fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joined, that the decision is not "expressing any view on the merits of the case" and that the challengers "should not be deterred."
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, welcomed the decision, saying in a statement that the state law would keep people safe.
"We believe that these thoughtful, sensible regulations will help to prevent gun violence," she said.
Erich Pratt, the senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group involved in the challenge, said in a statement that although he wanted the law blocked, Alito's statement was "incredibly reassuring," as it suggested that the Supreme Court is prepared to step in later.
U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby in a Nov. 7 ruling struck down a number of provisions of the law, including one that bars firearms in a wide variety of “sensitive locations,” such as health care facilities, churches, parks, entertainment venues and other places where people gather. He also blocked a provision that requires gun owners to show “good moral character” to obtain licenses and another that he said was a sweeping ban on firearms on private property open the public.
The challenge was brought by Ivan Antonyuk and five other people who say they would like to carry firearms outside the home.
New York legislators passed their law banning firearms in many public places and stiffening permitting requirements in July, after the Supreme Court's June ruling struck down a century-old provision in New York that required gun owners who want to carry handguns outside their homes to prove that they have unique needs for self-defense.
The new law, called the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, also requires applicants to provide character references, contact information of family members and people they live with and information about their social media accounts.
Various gun owners have challenged provisions of the law, with three federal district courts ruling in their favor. In each case, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the law to remain in place in full pending appeals.