Gun-rights suit from N.Y. gains backing of 25 senators    

Associated Press In this Feb. 8, 2012, file photo, U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, speak at a media conference on Capitol Hill.

ALBANY — A major gun-rights challenge originating in upstate New York and headed to the U.S. Supreme Court has drawn the backing of numerous Republican U.S. senators, House members and state attorneys general.

The friend-of-the-court brief filed with the nation's top court argues New York's restrictions on concealed-carry handgun permits impede the ability to carry a firearm outside the home and violate the Second American protections of the right to bear arms.

"The Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms cannot be second-guessed by legislators across the country who simply disagree with the choice the Framers (of the U.S. Constitution) made," the brief argues.

New York's law requires a person requesting a concealed-carry permit to demonstrate a need for self-protection that is "distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession."

The litigation is being viewed as the most significant gun-rights case the high court has agreed to hear in more than a decade.

It arises from Rensselaer County, where two concealed-carry applicants, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, along with the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, mounted a legal challenge after a local judge determined the men did not sufficiently show why they needed handguns outside the home for self-defense.

Tom King, president of the Rifle & Pistol Association, told CNHI he believes the senators' decision to file a formal brief in the matter will help show that "it's a fundamental right to have protection outside the home."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defended the law being challenged, stating in April that the federal government should add restrictions to current gun-control laws.

"The streets of New York are not the O.K. Corral, and the NRA's dream of a society where everyone is terrified of each other and armed to the teeth is abhorrent to our values," the governor said.

King said he expects the case will be argued before the Supreme Court in November.

Nash and Koch were denied the permits after they completed a gun safety course.

Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond is among police executives who say a person who is approved for a regular pistol permit should be allowed to carry a concealed handgun outside the home.

Sens. McConnell, Rubio and Cruz were joined in the brief by John Barrasso, Marsha Blackburn, John Boozman, Mike Braun, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Kevin Cramer, Mike Crapo, Steve Daines, Josh Hawley, John Hoeven, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, Jerry Moran, Jim Risch, Rick Scott and Thom Tillis.

Also on their side are 26 state attorneys general and 176 House members, including Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford.

Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at jmahoney@cnhinews.com

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