The Next Big Second Amendment Case?

August 29, 2019



The upcoming Supreme Court case New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. the City of New York could be the first major Second Amendment case in almost a decade. It centers around a New York City regulation prohibiting residents from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns are unloaded and separated from ammunition. New York’s NRA affiliate and some gun-owning residents challenged the regulation, but, in the midst of litigation, New York City changed it – raising the question of whether the case was now “moot”. And, Senate Democrats filed a controversial brief addressed to the Supreme Court warning that they might pursue structural reform of the Court if they don’t like the outcome in this case. Detailing the twists and turns of the case and its potential impact on the Second Amendment – Adam Winkler of UCLA Law School and Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute join host Jeffrey Rosen.

Here’s some vocabulary that may be helpful to know this week:

  • Mootness: A case becomes moot if the conflict, or the law at issue, that was present at the start of litigation no longer exists.
  • Judicial review doctrines: A judicial review test is what courts use to determine the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance. There are three main levels in constitutional law:
  • Strict scrutiny: For a law to survive a court’s review under strict scrutiny, it must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest;.
  • Intermediate Scrutiny: A level down from strict scrutiny. The law must be substantially related to an important government interest.
  • Rational basis review: The most deferential kind of review to the legislature. A law only has to be “rationally related” to a “legitimate” government interest.



Adam Winkler is Professor of Law at UCLA Law. He is the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America (2011) as well as the Interactive Constitution’s Second Amendment explainers.

Ilya Shapiro is the Director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and the editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He is one of the authors of Cato’s amicus brief, written on behalf of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.

​​​​​​Jeffrey Rosen is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center, the only institution in America chartered by Congress “to disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” 

Additional Resources

This episode was engineered by Kevin Kilbourne, and produced by Jackie McDermott. Research was provided by Lana Ulrich, Jackie McDermott, and Ellie Rutkey.

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