WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Supreme Court is staying out of the gun debate for now.
The justices on Monday declined to hear a challenge to a strict New York law that makes it difficult for residents to get a license to carry a concealed handgun in public.
The court did not comment in turning away an appeal from five in Westchester County residents and the Second Amendment Foundation. Their lawsuit also drew support from the National Rifle Association and 20 states.
According to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the “proper cause” provision requires a license applicant to show “a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.”
The law that was challenged is not part of the new gun control measure that was passed by the New York State Legislature earlier this year in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school massacre.
That law, championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, bans in-state sales of guns classified as assault weapons. It also requires federal background checks for private firearms sales performed by licensed gun dealers.
The high court action comes as the Senate is set to begin debating gun control legislation this week.
The measure requires background checks for people buying guns at gun shows and online. Background checks currently apply only to transactions handled by the country’s 55,000 licensed gun dealers. Private transactions, such as a sale of a gun between family members, would still be exempt.
Advocates say the measures would make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to get weapons. Opponents argue that the restrictions would violate the Constitution’s right to bear arms and would be ignored by criminals.
Other additions to the legislation also are expected to be debated this week, including a measure that would allow concealed hand gun permits issued by one state to be accepted nationwide as a de facto background check.
On Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer said he will not stand for any proposals that would force New York to honor out-of-state concealed carry gun permits.
“Any person who has a permit, a concealed carry permit, in Wyoming could come to New York and carry it concealed even though it would be against our laws,” he told reporters. “In New York, there are great limits on when you can carry and where you can carry and how you can carry and all those would be undone.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on several news shows Sunday that concealed weapons permits should be applied nationally. He also called for more prosecution of people who are trying to buy guns and fail a background check.
“The debate needs to be about violence,” he said. “My skepticism about gun laws is that criminals don’t follow the law, they don’t care what the law is. You can pass any law you want; criminals, by definition, they’re criminals.”
The Senate is also expected to consider, and reject, Democratic amendments to ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines carrying more than 10 rounds.
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