Supreme Court Strikes Down New York Gun Control Law - Rolling Stone
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Supreme Court Strikes Down New York’s Limits on Carrying Concealed Weapons in Public

Clarence Thomas wrote that New York’s concealed-carry limits “prevent law-abiding citizens … from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense”

An attendee handles a Lock Perfection pistol handgun during the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting, Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Houston. The NRA's annual conference is being held for the first time since 2019 due to Covid-19. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)An attendee handles a Lock Perfection pistol handgun during the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting, Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Houston. The NRA's annual conference is being held for the first time since 2019 due to Covid-19. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)

An attendee handles a Lock Perfection pistol handgun during the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting, on Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Houston.

Aaron M. Sprecher/AP

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a provision of New York state’s concealed-carry licensing system, ruling that the state’s laws imposing limits on who could carry concealed weapons in public was unconstitutional.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen centers around a 1913 New York law outlining the requirements for carrying a concealed gun in public. In order to be granted a license, someone must either prove that there is a specific “proper cause,” or else have a job that makes them a target, like a judge. The Supreme Court ruled the law is unconstitutional 6-3, along ideological lines. Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, arguing that this requirement of the law “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”

Justice Samuel Alito in a concurring opinion implied that the fact that there was a mass shooting in Buffalo last month means trying to limit who can carry guns in public is pointless.

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association brought the case in Dec. 2020 after two New York men, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, were denied concealed-carry licenses, arguing that the the state “makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license.”

During oral arguments in November, the gun association made a broad appeal for loosening restrictions. “In a country with the Second Amendment as a fundamental right, simply having more firearms cannot be a problem,” one of the group’s attorneys, Paul Clement, said. The court’s conservatives didn’t hide that they planned to agree. “If it’s the discretion of an individual officer, that seems inconsistent with an objective constitutional right,” Brett Kavanaugh argued. “I mean, what if you’re a runner and you say I run a lot, and, as you correctly pointed out earlier, there are a lot of serious violent crimes on running paths. It’s a real problem. Is that good enough?”

The decision comes 14 years after District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court ruled 5-4 that the district’s ban on handguns and its requirement that lawfully owned guns be kept at home unloaded and disassembled was unconstitutional. While Heller effectively cleared the way for looser regulations on gun ownership by private citizens, many staunch Second Amendment advocates have been trying to push for more from the court. They got it with the decision on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen.

The National Rifle Association cheered the decision on Thursday. “Today’s ruling is a watershed win for good men and women all across America and is the result of a decades-long fight the NRA has led,” NRA chief Wayne LaPierre said in a statement. “The right to self-defense and to defend your family and loved ones should not end at your home. This ruling brings life-saving justice to law-abiding Americans who have lived under unconstitutional regimes all across our country, particularly in cities and states with revolving door criminal justice systems, no cash bail and increased harassment of law-enforcement.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the decision “reprehensible” while saying she is prepared to call the state’s legislature back into session “to deal with this.”

“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans,” added President Biden.

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