The Supreme Court said Thursday that Americans generally have a right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense and that a New York law requiring special need for such a permit is too restrictive.
The Supreme Court decision will make life more dangerous in New York and the handful of states with similar laws, including New Jersey.
The justices’ 6-3 decision follows a series of recent mass shootings and is expected to ultimately allow more people to legally carry guns on the streets of the nation’s largest cities — including New York, Los Angeles and Boston — and elsewhere.
The Supreme Court just ruled in favor of the NRA’s ‘guns everywhere’ agenda. Its deadly decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen will mean more guns at schools, workplaces, places of worship, and more — inevitably leading to more mass shootings and gun homicides.
In their decision, the justices struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry one in public. The justices said the requirement violates the Second Amendment right thus obliterating the authority if states to ensure that firearms are “well regulated.”
New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island all have similar laws. The Biden administration had urged the justices to uphold New York’s law.
New York’s law, which has been in place since 1913, says that to carry a concealed handgun in public, a person applying for a license has to show “proper cause,” a specific need to carry the weapon.
About a quarter of the U.S. population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling, the high court’s first major gun decision in more than a decade.
The ruling comes as Congress is actively working on gun legislation following recent mass shootings in Texas, New York and California.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home” despite the specific language of the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
He was joined by the court’s conservatives: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
“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 Bill of Rights guarantees,'” Thomas wrote. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”
“That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion,” Thomas wrote. “It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
In a dissent joined by his liberal colleagues, Justice Stephen Breyer focused on the toll taken by gun violence.
“Since the start of this year alone (2022), there have already been 277 reported mass shootings—an average of more than one per day,” Breyer wrote.
Breyer noted the rise in gun violence in the U.S. and the ubiquity of firearms and he warned that states working to pass more stringent firearms laws will be “severely” burdened by the court’s decision.
“The radical new interpretation of the Second Amendment handed down by Supreme Court justices named by presidents who lost a popular majority of voters will make life more dangerous in New York & states with similar laws, including New Jersey,” said gun control advocate Lisa McCormick.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution authorized Congress “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;”
Backers of New York’s law had argued that striking it down would ultimately lead to more guns on the streets and higher rates of violent crime. The decision comes at a time when gun violence already on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic has spiked anew.