Washington — The Supreme Court struck down one on Thursdaywhich imposed severe restrictions on the carrying of concealed firearms in public in self-defense and held that it was unconstitutional for applicants applying for a concealed carry license to be required to demonstrate a special need for self-defense.
In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision upholding New York’s 108-year-old statute restricting who can obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. Supporters of the measure warned that a Supreme Court ruling invalidating it could threaten gun restrictions in several states and lead to more guns on city streets.
Judge Clarence Thomas provided the majority opinion for the ideologically divided court, writing that New York’s “reasonable cause requirement” prevents law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights and that its licensing system is unconstitutional.
“The constitutional right to bear arms in public in self-defense is not a ‘second-class right governed by an entirely different set of rules than the other guarantees of the Bill of Rights,'” wrote Thomas. “We are not aware of any other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating a special need to government officials. That’s not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or freedom of worship. How the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And that’s not how the second amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.
In a dissenting letter for the court’s liberal wing, Judge Stephen Breyer highlighted the rise in gun violence in the US and the ubiquity of firearms, warning that states working to pass stricter firearms laws are “seriously” taken by the court’s decision be charged.
“In my view, it is constitutionally appropriate, and often necessary, for courts to interpret the Second Amendment to consider the serious dangers and consequences of gun violence that prompt states to regulate firearms,” Breyer wrote. “The Second Circuit did this and determined that New York law does not violate the Second Amendment. I would confirm this statement.”
The court’s decision follows a series of mass shootings from mid-May to early June that shook the nation and acted as a catalyst for Congress to once again seek consensus on a bill to curb gun violence. On May 14, a racist gunman went on a rampage at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY.. Ten days later, 19 children and two teachers were murdered in a massacre in Uvalde, Texas. Then, on June 1st, in a medical building in Tulsa, Okla.
The ruling marks the first extension of gun laws, when the Supreme Court recognized that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep firearms in the home for self-defense. The New York court battle was also the largest Second Amendment case before the court since its 2008 ruling and However, the right to have a handgun in the home is statewide. The Conservative Supreme Court majority, 6-3, would recognize that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a firearm in public.
In a joint statement by Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanuagh noted that the court’s decision does not prohibit states from imposing licensing requirements for carrying handguns and leaves existing regulations in 43 states untouched. Instead, it only impacts stricter licensing rules in place in six states, including New York.
President Biden said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed by the decision” and again called on states to enact changes to their laws to curb gun violence.
“This ruling is contrary to both common sense and the Constitution and should concern us all deeply,” he said.
The New York City Licensing Act at the center of the dispute dates back to 1913 and requires residents applying for a license to carry a gun outside the home to demonstrate “proper reason” to obtain one, which state courts have said a “special need” is self-protection.”
The two plaintiffs in the case, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, each applied for carrying licenses, but licensing officials denied their applications because they could not establish a reasonable justification for carrying handguns in public. The two received “restricted” licenses to carry firearms for target shooting, hunting, and outdoor pursuits.
In 2018, along with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Nash and Koch challenged the constitutionality of New York’s ban on the public carrying of handguns and the requirement for good cause. A federal district court dismissed her claim, and the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, leaving the licensing system in effect.
New York governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, criticized The Supreme Court’s decision, which said on Twitter it was “outrageous that in a moment of national reckoning over gun violence, the Supreme Court has ruthlessly struck down a New York law restricting those who are allowed to carry concealed weapons.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the court ruling will “put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.” He vowed to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the approach to defining places where carrying firearms is prohibited and to review the application process to ensure only qualified individuals can be licensed to carry them.
“This decision may have opened an additional river feeding the sea of gun violence, but we will do everything we can to stem it,” he said.
Half of the states generally require a state-issued permit to carry a concealed firearm in public, and of those, about six other states — California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — allow a person to carry it firearms in public unless absolutely necessary. In these half-dozen states, government officials have the discretion to refuse licenses even if the applicant meets legal criteria.
New York officials and the Biden administration, which are asking the Supreme Court to uphold the law, warned judges during hearings in November that repealing the measure could have a domino effect, affecting not just state restrictions but others, too. that could limit the public Wear them to places where people gather, such as airports, arenas, churches and schools.
Some of the judges appeared concerned about how a broad ruling could affect restrictions imposed on places where large numbers of people gather. For example, Roberts questioned whether a state or city could ban guns in soccer stadiums or places where alcohol is served, while Judge Amy Coney Barrett asked about a gun ban in “sensitive places” like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
In a unanimous opinion, Judge Samuel Alito criticized Breyer’s dissent for reporting on the recent mass shootings.
“Does the dissent believe that laws like New York prevent or deter such atrocities? Will a person attempting a mass shooting be stopped knowing that it is illegal to carry a handgun outside the home? And how is the dissent explained? the fact that one of the mass shootings at the top of the list took place in Buffalo?” he wrote. “The New York law at issue in this case evidently did not stop that perpetrator.”