The Supreme Court struck down New York’s century-old law restricting the carrying of concealed firearms Thursday, its first major Second Amendment decision in more than a decade and a ruling that could lead to more weapons on the streets — as well as subways, churches, bars, airports and just about anywhere people gather.
Writing for a 6-3 court, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the law’s requirement that New Yorkers who want a license to carry a handgun in public show “proper cause” that the weapon is specifically needed for self-defense “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”
“When the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct,” Thomas added. “The government must then justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and two upstate men had challenged the law — on the books since 1913 — claiming it violated their Second Amendment rights.
During oral arguments in November, Paul Clement, the attorney representing the association, stated to the justices that his clients were seeking “nothing more than their fellow citizens in 43 other states already enjoy.”
“Carrying a firearm outside the home is a fundamental constitutional right. It is not some extraordinary action that requires an extraordinary demonstration of need,”He stated that at the time.
Thomas wrote: “Nothing in the Second Amendment’s text draws a home/public distinction with respect to the right to keep and bear arms.”
It was written also by justice “the Second Amendment guarantees an ‘individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,’ and confrontation can
surely take place outside the home.”
State and city officials expressed concerns that repealing the law might lead to increased gun ownership in public, despite the fact that there has been an increase in gun violence since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Kathy Hochul described the court’s decision Thursday as “not just reckless, it’s reprehensible”And “frightful in its scope.”
“It keeps me up at night,”Interview with Mayor Eric Adams, WABC-TV Sunday “We have some of the most stringent gun permitting laws. … I’m extremely concerned about this. My legal team is now communicating with other cities and states to determine how do we come together to be prepared for this ruling.”
Thursday’s decision was the first major Second Amendment ruling by the court since 2010, when the court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applied to the states via the 14th Amendment. Two years earlier, the Court struck down Washington DC’s handgun ban, and Thomas cited both decisions heavily in his opinion.
Stephen Breyer (retending Justice) wrote in his dissident: “Since the start of this year alone (2022), there have already been 277 reported mass shootings—an average of more than one per day.”
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