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Supreme Court Rules New York Anti-Gun Law Unconstitutional

Government

Concealed carry permit application and pistol gun firearm. | Image by Shutterstock

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The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on Thursday overturning a New York law that restricts the issuance of concealed carry permits. The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, centered on a policy that required individuals to demonstrate a need in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public. The Court ruled 6-3 in favor of overturning the lower court ruling.

“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,'” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion. “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. 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.”

Democrats, including President Joe Biden and New York Governor Kathy Hochul, spoke out against the decision. Biden called the Court’s decision “deeply disturbing,” and claimed that the ruling “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution.”

“Today, the Supreme Court is sending us backwards in our efforts to protect families and prevent gun violence. And it’s particularly painful that this came down at this moment when we’re still dealing with families in pain from mass shootings that have occurred — the loss of life, their beloved children and grandchildren,” Hochul told reporters Thursday.

The effect of the ruling will require New York, along with six other states, to loosen permit laws to allow citizens to obtain permits to carry a concealed handgun without having to show a reason.

The ruling does not impact the State’s right to restrict the types of firearms, magazine capacities, licensing, training, or any other restrictions that are available.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing in a concurring opinion on the decision, challenged opponents of the ruling by pointing out that existing laws, including the law in question, have not prevented mass shootings, including a racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo.

“Does the dissent think that laws like New York’s prevent or deter such atrocities? Will a person bent on carrying out a mass shooting be stopped if he knows that it is illegal to carry a handgun outside the home? And how does the dissent account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list took place in Buffalo?” Alito questioned. “The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.”

“This is another landmark win for constitutional freedom and the NRA,” wrote Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, in a statement. “Decades of Right-to-Carry laws all across America have proven that good men and women are not the problem. This ruling will bring life-saving justice to law-abiding Americans who have lived under unconstitutional restrictions all across our country, particularly in cities and states with revolving door criminal justice systems, no cash bail, and increased opposition to law-enforcement.”

New York legislators are already planning on their next step to re-establishing the legal authority to restrict concealed carry by regular citizens. Hochul said she is considering calling a special legislative session, while the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, vowed to find new ways to restrict lawful concealed carry.

Adams said the decision “put[s] New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence. This decision may have opened an additional river feeding the sea of gun violence, but we will do everything we can to dam it,” he said.

Adams said that his office will look at ways to restrict locations where lawful concealed carry can exist, along with ways to restrict the permitting process to allow only those who are qualified to gain a permit.     

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