WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) – 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.
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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.
Local leaders in the Philadelphia area reacted to the news on social media. Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey tweeted in part: “Based on a deeply flawed constitutional methodology, a right-wing majority in the Supreme Court of the United States has just said that states can no longer decide for themselves what to do in the country.” How to limit the spread of firearms to the public sector.”
Based on a deeply flawed constitutional methodology, a right-wing majority in the United States Supreme Court has just said that states can no longer decide for themselves how to limit the spread of firearms in the public sphere.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) 23 June 2022
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted that the ruling was a “huge step back.”
SCOTUS’s decision is a major step backwards at a time when communities across the country are dealing with increasing gun violence. This decision shows how far the Court is from the reality of life in our communities and what is needed to keep residents safe.
— Jim #VaxUpPhilly Kenny (@PhillyMayor) 23 June 2022
Delaware Sen. Chris Koons also issued a statement on the decision.
“On a day when the US Senate is about to pass historic, bipartisan gun safety legislation that will save lives, the current Supreme Court issues a decision that will potentially put more lives at risk,” Koons wrote in a statement. “Today’s ruling is the product of a generations-long right-wing effort to replace the court. Today’s court is led by conservative judicial activists who twist constitutional analysis to substitute their policy priorities for laws passed by Congress or states. Huh.
“I am grateful that Democrats and Republicans stand together to send a message that appropriate laws to prevent gun violence do not threaten constitutional rights—they save lives. We must pass the bipartisan Safe Communities Act as soon as possible. “
The ruling comes as Congress is working toward passing gun laws following mass shootings in Texas, New York and California. On Thursday, senators were expected to clear the way for a measure that was modest in scope but still the most far-reaching in decades.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision, which he said was “contrary to both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply disturb all of us.”
He urged states to pass new laws, saying, “I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Life is on the line.”
In the opinion itself, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution “protects the right of a person to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”
The decision struck down a New York law that required people to demonstrate a special requirement to carry a firearm in order to be licensed to carry one in public. The judges said the requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws. The Biden administration urged judges to uphold New York’s law.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the decision came at a particularly painful time, when New York is still mourning the deaths of 10 people in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo. “This decision is not just reckless. It is reprehensible. This is not what the people of New York want,” she said.
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But Tom King, president of the plaintiffs’ New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said he was relieved.
“New York State’s legitimate and legal gun owner will no longer be persecuted by laws that have nothing to do with people’s safety and that will do nothing to make people safe,” he said. “And maybe now we will start going after the perpetrators and the perpetrators of these heinous acts.”
In a court dissent joined by his liberal allies, Justice Stephen Breuer focused on the toll posed by gun violence. “Since the beginning of this year (2022), there have already been 277 mass shootings reported – on average more than a day,” Breuer wrote.
Proponents of New York’s law had argued that taking it down would result in more guns on the streets and higher rates of violent crime. Gun violence, which was already on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic, has increased again.
Gun owners in most countries have little difficulty legally carrying their weapons in public. But that was harder to do in New York and a handful of states with similar laws. New York law, which has been in force since 1913, states that in order to carry a concealed weapon in public, a person applying for a license must show “reasonable cause,” a specific requirement to carry a weapon.
The state issues unrestricted licenses where a person can carry their gun anywhere and restricted licenses which allow a person to carry a weapon, but only for specific purposes such as hunting and target shooting or their place of business.
The Supreme Court last issued a big gun decision in 2010. In that decision and a 2008 ruling, judges established a nationwide right to have a gun at home for self-defense. This time the question for the court was to be taken out of the house.
The challenge to the New York law was brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization, and calls for the unrestricted ability of two men to carry guns outside their homes. .
The court’s decision is slightly out of public opinion. Nearly half of voters in the 2020 presidential election said gun laws in the US should be made more strict, according to AP VoteCast, a detailed poll of voters. An additional third said the laws should be kept in place, while only 1 in 10 said gun laws should be less strict.
VoteCast showed that about 8 in 10 Democratic voters said gun laws should be made stricter. Among Republican voters, nearly half said the laws should be kept, while the remaining half should be divided between more and less strict.
Associated Press journalists Hannah Fingerhut and Zeke Miller in Washington and Michael King in East Greenbush, New York contributed to this report.
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