The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York state law that requires applicants for a license to carry a gun outside their homes to have “good cause” to do so, saying it violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Joined.
The 6-3 ruling in the case is a major victory for gun rights advocates who had challenged New York’s restrictive law, which makes it a crime to carry a concealed firearm without a license.
It also represents the Supreme Court’s biggest expansion of gun rights in more than a decade, and casts doubt on laws in eight other states and the District of Columbia that restrict concealed carry permits similarly to New York.
The six conservative Supreme Court justices voted to invalidate the law, which has been in place since 1911. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion in the case, known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruens.
The three liberals on the court voted to uphold the law. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent to the ruling.
A US Supreme Court police officer walks past gun rights protesters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, December 2, 2019.
Andres Harrer | Mayor Bloomberg | fake images
In his majority opinion, Thomas wrote that the New York law violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law, because it “prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary needs for self-defense exercise their right to keep and bear arms” as authorized by the Second Amendment.
The ruling comes weeks after mass shootings at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store and another at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, reignited a national debate over America’s gun laws.
Democratic elected officials were quick to condemn Thursday’s decision, which they said will jeopardize public safety.
President Joe Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, which he argued, “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should concern us all deeply.”
Citing the “horrible attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde,” Biden urged states to pass “common sense” gun regulation “to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said: “This decision is not only reckless, it is reprehensible.”
Hochul said that because “the federal government will not have comprehensive laws to protect us … our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can and have laws that protect our citizens from what is going on: the insanity of the gun culture that has possessed everyone to the Supreme Court.”
The case was brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and two of its members, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, whose applications for licenses to carry concealed firearms for personal defense purposes were denied.
New York Supreme Court Justice Richard McNally ruled that neither man had shown adequate cause to carry weapons in public because they failed to show that they had a special need for self-protection.
The plaintiffs then challenged that denial in federal court in New York. They argued that the state law governing concealed carry licenses, which allows them only to applicants of “good moral character” who have “just cause” to carry weapons outside the home, violates the Second Amendment.
After a federal judge in New York dismissed the case, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld that ruling. The United States Supreme Court then took up the case.
Thomas, in his majority opinion, wrote that New York’s good cause requirement, as it has been interpreted by state courts, was inconsistent with the “national history of firearms regulation.”
“A state may not prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms in public because they have not demonstrated a special need for self-defense,” Thomas wrote.
But Breyer, in his dissent, wrote: “Only by ignoring a large body of historical evidence supporting regulations restricting the public transportation of firearms, can the Court conclude that the New York law is not ‘consistent with tradition. Nation’s Historic Firearms Regulation'”.
Breyer also wrote, “Many states have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence just described by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who can buy, carry, or use firearms of different types.”
“Today, the Court places a great burden on States’ efforts to do so.”