In Washington, DC today, the Supreme Court heard the most consequential Second Amendment case since 2010, which could have an impact on roughly a quarter of all Americans or about 80 million people who may be affected by the ruling.
In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, a local affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA) is challenging New York State’s century-old law requiring that citizens show “proper cause” in order to get a permit to carry a gun in public.
The case is much bigger than any single state law.
For starters, one in four Americans live in a state with a permitting law similar to New York’s, and for good reason—research has shown that states that did away with such measures experienced an 11 percent spike in gun-related murders.
If the Supreme Court strikes down New York’s law, public carry permitting laws will be thrown into limbo.
“Today, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear a case which has garnered extreme support from the NRA, and if they get their way, it will dramatically change gun laws in our country and make the NRA’s dreams come true,” said Jon Lowy, chief counsel for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “They’re pushing for a Constitutional right to carry handguns in public spaces to use in ‘armed confrontation’ — in other words, to fire guns when and where they choose to.”
“If the NRA’s extreme Second Amendment views become the law of the land, you and I may not be allowed to enact the strong laws that we want and need to protect our families and communities from gun violence,” said Lowy.
Three different lawyers argued before the Court on Wednesday morning. First, Paul Clement will argue for 35 minutes on behalf of the challengers: the state NRA affiliate and two individuals who were denied unrestricted carry licenses.
Next, Barbara Underwood, the New York Solicitor General, will argue for 20 minutes defending the state’s law. Then, Brian Fletcher, the Principal Deputy Solicitor General, will argue for 15 minutes on behalf of the United States in support of the state.
“2008, DC vs. Heller. That was the case that established that Americans can carry a gun for self-defense,” said Jennifer Mascia, a news writer at The Trace. “And the 2010 case McDonald v. Chicago applied that ruling not just to DC, but to the states. So, the one thing that has not been addressed is – can we carry a gun outside of the home?”
With a total of 398.7 million guns, America has more firearms than any other country — and its residents keep buying them, with sales hitting record highs in 2020.
“While communities across the nation continue to suffer senseless gun violence, the burden of protecting Americans from mass shootings falls on states,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, but guns do not stop working as they cross the threshold of another state’s border, which is why our gun licensing laws are necessary,” said James. “This year alone, the United States has already seen over 600 mass shootings and more than 37,000 individuals have died as a result of gun violence”
The vast majority of states require a person to have a permit to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public. Although standards and processes vary, most states require applicants to pass a criminal background check, complete safety training, complete live-fire shooting exercises, and be a resident of the state.
Many of these states also give law enforcement the authority to deny permits to people who pose a danger to the public.
These laws promote responsible gun ownership and ensure core public safety standards are preserved when people carry concealed guns in public places.
For over a century, states have recognized the public safety benefits of requiring a permit to carry concealed guns.
Yet over the last decade, the gun lobby has been promoting legislation to allow people to carry concealed guns in public places without a permit, background check, or safety training, dismantling the system of responsible gun ownership.
Many states have passed laws loosening their permitting standards, and a handful of states have completely eliminated their concealed carry permit requirement.
These permitless carry bills lower the bar for who may carry hidden handguns in public and allow untrained and unvetted people to carry concealed guns in parks, shopping malls, crowded town centers, and on city streets.