Supreme Court ruling on NY gun law could affect gun policies in a big way


FILE – A handgun is reviewed from a collection of illegal guns during a gun buyback event on May 22, 2021 in Brooklyn, NY. AP Photo/Babeto Mathews, file

The US Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York state law that restricted who could obtain permission to carry a gun in public. Under law in force since 1913, New York residents were required to show reasonable cause, or a genuine need, to carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense.

The judges said the law conflicts with the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. It prompted New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, who called the decision reckless and said she was ready to call the Legislature back into session to create a response.

“We don’t require people to enter our subways, our restaurants and cinemas with hidden weapons,” she said. “We don’t need more guns on our streets.”

New York and half a dozen other states with similar laws now have to decide their next steps. Like New York, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have Democrat-controlled legislatures that can propose measures to ensure that guns will not be allowed in some places.

Gun rights groups in those states have vowed to continue to back down against what they see as restrictive gun control laws. Some of those cases may eventually make their way to the country’s High Court.

Massachusetts law gave local police chiefs the power to decide whether a person was eligible for a license to carry a handgun. For reasons such as a history of domestic violence, police chiefs are able to reject applicants if they determine that the person would pose a risk to public safety. Those who are denied can appeal to their local district court.

The law states that people deemed fit may be licensed to carry if they show “good reason to fear injury” to themselves or their property “or for any other reason”, including “only sport or goal”. for use in practice”.

What is considered “good cause” depends on police chiefs, who differ in requiring applicants to meet that standard. Some demand that applicants show that they have a reason to fear injury that separates them from the general population to obtain an unrestricted license.

Massachusetts courts have ruled that police chiefs may impose restrictions on licenses when one can carry a firearm if they cannot show “good reason to fear injury.”

State Attorney General Maura Healy said Thursday that she stood by the state’s “commonsense gun laws” and would continue to vigorously defend and enforce them. The office did not respond to questions from the Associated Press about the extent to which Massachusetts law would be affected by the decision.

Jason Guida, the former director of the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau, who now serves as an attorney representing gun owners, said state laws banning the carrying of guns outside the home will now be challenged and potentially will be reversed.

Communities that restrict gun owners’ licenses for certain purposes unless applicants show a special need for self-defense will need to rewrite their policies, “otherwise there is a strong possibility in the very near future that these Communities will find themselves in federal court,” he said.

State Representative David Lynsey, a Democrat who advocates gun control measures, said he is still investigating the ruling but is deeply concerned about its potential impact on police chiefs’ ability to use their discretion when issuing gun licenses. Huh.

“The end result is that gun violence will increase,” he said. “People will be killed, people will be injured, and we will all be less safe.”

A federal judge wrote in a 2017 case that Massachusetts law is “less restrictive than New York in some respects” because Massachusetts allows – but does not demand – that police chiefs require applicants to “self-defense before being released”. requires to demonstrate a special need.” An unrestricted license. ,

Democratic State Rep. Michael Day, House chair of the legislature’s judiciary committee, said lawmakers have several options depending on the specifics of the court’s decision.

“All options are on the table,” he said.

Associated Press writer Mike Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey; Jennifer Kelleher in Honolulu; Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island; Alana Durkin Richter in Greeley Tribune; Don Thompson in Sacramento, California; Marina Villeneuve in Albany, New York; and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, contributed to this report.

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