Supreme Court strikes down New York gun law and expands concealed carry rights

Washington The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a New York Law which placed strict restrictions on the carrying of concealed firearms in public for self-defense, and held unconstitutional the requirement that applicants for a concealed-carry license demonstrate a special need for self-defense.

in a 6-3 failure, the Supreme Court has reversed a lower court decision that upheld New York’s 108-year-old law limiting who can obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm in public. Supporters of the measure warned that a high court ruling invalidating it could threaten gun restrictions in several states and lead to more guns on city streets.

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the ideologically divided court’s majority opinion, writing that New York’s “good cause requirement” prevented law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights, and its licensing regime is unconstitutional. .

“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other guarantees in the Bill of Rights,'” Thomas wrote. “We are not aware of any other constitutional right that an individual can exercise only after demonstrating to government officials some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. That’s not how the Sixth works. The amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront witnesses against him. And that’s not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carrying in self-defense.”

Writing in dissent for the liberal wing of the court, Justice Stephen Breyer noted the rise in gun violence in the US and the ubiquity of guns, warning that states working to pass laws stricter firearm regulations will be “severely” affected by the court’s decision.

“In my view, when courts interpret the Second Amendment, it is constitutionally appropriate, indeed often necessary, that they consider the grave dangers and consequences of gun violence that lead states to regulate firearms,” Breyer wrote. “The Second Circuit has done so and has held that the New York law does not violate the Second Amendment. I would affirm that decision.”

The court’s decision comes on the heels of a series of mass shootings from mid-May to early June that rocked the nation and acted as a catalyst for Congress to once again seek consensus on a legislative plan to curb gun violence. On May 14, a racist gunman shot up a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. killing 10 people. Ten days later, 19 children and two teachers were massacred in a elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Then, on June 1, four people were fatally shot in a medical building in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ruling marks first expansion of gun rights since 2008, 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 decision, and a sentence from 2010 That said, the right to have a firearm in the home applies to states. Gun rights supporters were hopeful the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority would recognize that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a firearm in public.

In a concurring opinion by Justice Brett Kavanaugh and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanuagh noted that the court’s decision does not prohibit states from imposing gun license requirements and leaves existing regimes in 43 states intact. Instead, it only affects the stricter licensing rules in place in six states, including New York.

President Biden said in a statement that he is “deeply disappointed in the decision” and again urged states to enact changes to their laws to curb gun violence.

“This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply concern us all,” he said.

The New York permit law at the center of the dispute dates back to 1913 and requires residents seeking a license to carry a gun outside the home to show “good cause” to obtain it, which state courts have said is a “special need for personal protection.”

The two plaintiffs in the case, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, applied for licenses to carry, but licensing officers denied their applications because they were unable to establish adequate cause for carrying weapons in public. The two were issued “restricted” licenses to carry firearms for target shooting, hunting and outdoor activities.

Along with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Nash and Koch challenged the constitutionality of New York’s ban on carrying firearms in public and the just cause requirement in 2018. A federal district court dismissed their lawsuit. and the US Second Circuit Court. Appeals upheld the decision, leaving the licensing regime in place.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, criticized the Supreme Court’s decision, saying on Twitter that it was “outrageous that at a time of national reckoning over gun violence, the Supreme Court recklessly struck down a New York law limiting who can carry concealed weapons.”


New York Governor Kathy Hochul Responds to Supreme Court Overturning Gun Law

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the court’s ruling “will put New Yorkers at increased risk of gun violence.” He pledged to conduct a “comprehensive review” of the approach to defining places where it is prohibited to carry firearms and review the application process to ensure that only those who are qualified can obtain a license to carry firearms.

“This decision may have opened up an additional river that feeds the sea of ​​gun violence, but we will do everything we can to dam it,” he said.

Half of the states typically require a state-issued permit to carry a concealed firearm in public, and of those, six other states (California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) allow A person carries a firearm in public only if they have a need to do so. In those half-dozen states, government officials have discretion to deny licenses, even if the applicant meets the legal criteria.

Officials in New York and the Biden administration, who have urged the Supreme Court to uphold the law, warned the justices during oral arguments in November that invalidating the measure could have a ripple effect, jeopardizing not only restrictions on states, but also others that limit public access. wear in places where people congregate, such as airports, stadiums, churches and schools.

Some of the justices seemed concerned about how a sweeping ruling could affect restrictions imposed on places where large numbers of people gather. Roberts, for example, questioned whether a state or city could ban firearms in football stadiums or places where alcohol is served, while Judge Amy Coney Barrett asked about banning guns in “sensitive places.” , like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Samuel Alito criticized Breyer’s dissent for recounting recent mass shootings.

“Does the dissent think that laws like the one in New York prevent or deter such atrocities? Will a person bent on carrying out a mass shooting be stopped if they know it is illegal to carry a firearm outside the home? And how do you explain dissent from the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of his list took place in Buffalo, he wrote.”The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.”

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