SCOTUS hears biggest gun rights case in last decade

Gun prevention demonstrators protested at the Supreme Court as the justices heard arguments over gun rights for the first time in nearly a decade.
7:42 | 12/02/19

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Transcript for SCOTUS hears biggest gun rights case in last decade
Over the Supreme Court now where the justices today consider the issue of gun rights for the first time. In nearly a decade the case involves a New York City law that had banned the transport of licensed locked and loaded handguns. Outside city limits six cities actually since god dropped the lobby city case is moot but gun rights groups. One of the Supreme Court to issue a ruling anyway potentially expanding second member of protections. For gun owners I was at the Supreme Court today the justice is very divided on that question whether. There's even a case here at all now the New York City is drop the law. After oral arguments are topped a gun safety advocates outside a rainy supreme court for their take on today's hearing people. It's hard to predict that I thought that there was a lot of interest among they judges to. Defer. Ruling on this recommendation you because there's no live case here it has many people says. The plate it's got everything they want. The city has repealed its law at New York State has prevented it from an acting again and so there's no okay so it should be dismissed. Chris this witness a huge moment at the court first gun rights case in ten years a lot of people out here. Why is there so much concern among gun safety groups like yours about this court and that now this case in particular boat we know that there. Hasn't then decision in a decade sense teller and Reno and that time that the gun violence prevention movement has made huge progress. In state after state after state and this country. We don't want that progress to be in any way compromised or reversed and we think that that Second Amendment like all of the amendments in the bill of rights. Has limitations. And legislatures across this country are making progress to protect public safety and we want that to continue where did you to. Only justices do you agree and various talked about my ex president. Impacted me how. Took action from then. Decided to speak out of my community in deleted from my peers and then and I talked about the charm and it comes live. Com. Gun violence here have a cellist so close. Muscular and brother. Two years ago and. Leave why is this case is that significant what's at stake. I'm not what's at stake is although where it can progress that we've been able to accomplish Novak and not just the last year and a half since Franklin button. Over the last few decades that he wanted to amounts mentioned that meant and the students here and our allies that difference gradient every town. How awards gala the past lies Arnold Lola Salem across the country act if the justices billet such a way that. BS scope with a ruling is Friday didn't read potentially overturn all of that likes it lifesaving legislation. And Zion we're out here in the rain there is a huge crowd back here there were more from fort sort of reining what message does this send the horn. I think that this says that that we really care like our forces are gonna be heard everybody could see in the fight even if even if we have to stet and RA and Hispanic code within a fifteen Beers. Hard for more on this now I'm joined by doctor Jonathan matzo professor Vanderbilt University also the research rector it's safe Tennessee project a nonpartisan gun violence. Research center Jonathan thanks so much for coming in fact you were over at the court today as well quite rainy out there on the surface this case seems that it could be sort of a limited one in scope focused X kind of an obscure law in New York City but. You've taken a close look at this and a ruling in favor of New York. Plaintiffs here the gun owners. Could actually having very dramatic impact nationwide price. This case is just to put it straight kind of being used in a particular raid there is no real decision to be made neck right now that the law in question. Has already been had you know done away with the people who asked for their rights have gotten their rights. Says just the very fact that the Supreme Court heard this case has kind of a shot across the bow. About I think what the ultimate aim is which is to expand. With the border called Heller writes and other words. Expand the right of people to be able to carry guns to own guns not just their home but it really carry them anywhere in public and you heard it in the voices of people who are out there really what's at stake in this decision is. Do cities and states have the right to set gunman legislation that works for them and we've got gotten familiar with this you know assault weapons bans red flag laws background checks. All of this things will be thrown up for grabs if the Supreme Court decides it actually there is a constitutional right that supersedes those state rights and so I think you're right it's a small case. But it could have tremendous tremendous implications have to discuss safety groups very fearful. Of what this case could mean simply as you say because this is some vehicle potentially. For something much broader arms should remind everybody as well that. There aren't a lot of Supreme Court decisions out there on guns in modern times the supreme court's actually only weigh in twice. On this and it recently 2008 and 2012 which said Dave in divisions have a right to own a gun and keep it in their home for self defense but here. Potentially they could. Give some language to protect the right to carry gun what are the options about what they could consider that we that would go much farther. Well and anyway that's what's kind of anxiety causing for people on the in the gun control side is the fact that they've chosen a case that is. Settlement and so arcane to make this point and kind of shows that. You know it's it's has a particular possible political bat I'm. I'd say that there are two things that I think are important to understand number one is the 2008 ruling that you mentioned the so called how the ruling. Basically it's sad that individuals have a right to own their own guns and keep them in their homes. I've but it left open to cities and states the rights to decide you know what works the best for you I'm. Do you want to allow people to carry loaded handguns in public or not do you want people to carry this. Passed dozens and though he hasn't lost that have held up those potentially at risk but I do want to play for viewers sound from the attorney today representing those gun plaintiffs challenging the new York law for openers and as Paul Clement is a former. A Bush Administration solicitor general here's what he said. About the stakes in this case. That in court asked lot of questions today about those continuing efforts by the city and try to make this case go away. But they also asked very important questions about the merits that made clear that this is part and parcel of the kind of regulations. That have no basis. In text history or tradition. And should not be upheld consistent with the Second Amendment were very very hopeful that the court. Will decide this case on the merits and in favor of the petitioners. And all bent were very gratified that we had our day in board. Did indicate these important constitutional rights. So Paul Clement optimistic there more than 35000. Americans killed by gun so far this year. According to go underground circuit your research into the data suggest that even a modest rule lean against New York City by the Supreme Court could. Impact that number. Absolutely we're re we have on average about 40000 gun deaths a year in this country not just homicides but we lead the world in gun suicides partner violence every kind of gun violence. And simply the data that I read research and many of the people just shows is that. The more you infuse guns into dense social situations the more shootings there aren't so the question I think for us as a society is. Do we want to support the Second Amendment but place reasonable restrictions on where people can carry guns you know the subway at bar something like that in New York. Or do we want to just say that the right to carry a loaded weapon as sacrosanct in which case we're gonna see more gun rights but we're also going to see more morgue doctor Jonathan that's a thanks so much for coming up pressure venerable universal's of their research director at the safe Tennessee president. Appreciate you coming here.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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