Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bonus Fall 2021 SCOTUS in the Classroom Case: New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen

Announcing a NEW SCOTUS in the Classroom case from the October ’21 Term: New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. This case has the potential to be a landmark Second Amendment case that could affect gun licensing in many states and cities. The case focuses on a New York law that establishes the process of applying for a license to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense.

Oral arguments will take place in-person in the Supreme Court building on November 3, 2021, and will broadcast LIVE.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen presents an opportunity to teach about the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, a state’s authority to pass restrictions on firearms, and the application of McDonald v. Chicago (a required A.P. Government and Politics SCOTUS case) as a precedent in a current case. We encourage teachers to feature this case in class as it is being argued and decided at the Court.

Case materials and resources are available on the SCOTUS in the Classroom program page. Teachers are encouraged to hold moot courts or mini-moot courts of the case the same weeks that the Supreme Court hears arguments, giving students the opportunity to follow discussion and analysis in the news and listen to or read a transcript of the actual oral arguments at the Court. You can find instructions and handouts for conducting a moot court in our newly revised free Classroom Guide to Moot Courts.


In 1911, New York passed a law which makes it a crime to possess any firearm without a license. Even with a license, concealed-carry permits are needed if gun owners wish to publicly carry their guns so that they are not visible to others. To receive a permit to carry a concealed handgun, an applicant must show “proper cause” and demonstrate a special need for self-protection.

The plaintiffs in this case are the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA) and two individuals, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch. Nash and Koch applied for licenses to carry concealed handguns. The officer denied their licenses because they failed to show “proper cause.” Both men were granted restricted licenses to carry concealed handguns outside the home for hunting and target practice, and in areas not “frequented by the general public.” Koch’s license also allows him to carry a concealed handgun while commuting to and from work. Other members of the NYSRPA would like to exercise their right to carry handguns for self-defense but also have been denied licenses.

The important question presented in this case is whether New York's law requiring that applicants for concealed-carry licenses demonstrate a special need for self-defense (the Sullivan Act) violates the Second Amendment?