US Supreme Court strikes down New York restriction on guns

US Supreme Court strikes down New York restriction on guns

The ruling says a law requiring resident to show ‘proper cause’ to carry a concealed gun in public is unconstitutional.

The US Supreme Court has made its most impactful ruling on guns in over a decade [File: Will Dunham/The Associated Press]

Published On 23 Jun 202223 Jun 2022

The United States Supreme Court has a deemed unconstitutional a decades-old New York state law that requires gun owners to show “proper cause” to carry a concealed handgun for self defense in public.

The law had given local authorities discretion to decide who receives a licence to cary a concealed gun. The US Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen that the law violates the 14th amendment of the US constitution, which says no state can “make or enforce” a law that overrides the “privileges or immunities” of citizens of the US. The Supreme Court majority opinion, in turn, said the New York state law infringes on rights outlined in the constitutions Second Amendment, which gives US citizens the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”.

The ruling represents the most impactful Supreme Court decision regarding the Second Amendment since a 2010 ruling that deemed Chicago’s ban on handgun ownership unconstitutional.

The justices voted 6-3 along ideological lines with conservative Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the majority that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

The decision is expected to have wide-ranging implications, with about a quarter of the US population living in states expected to be affected by the ruling. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws.

The Biden administration had urged the justices to uphold New York’s law.

The ruling comes at a time of heightened support for gun control following a string of high-profile mass shootings, including a racist attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York that left ten people dead and gun massacre at a Texas primary school in which 19 children and two teachers were fatally shot. Earlier this week, legislators said they say had reached a deal to pass the first federal gun control measure in decades, although the bill fell short of wider restrictions – including a ban on assault weapons – sought by gun control advocates.

The Senate is expected to vote move that legislation forward on Thursday, with majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, urging Republicans to expedite the process.

In a dissent to the ruling, joined by his liberal colleagues, Justice Stephen Breyer focused on the toll taken by gun violence.

“Since the start of this year alone (2022), there have already been 277 reported mass shootings – an average of more than one per day,“ Breyer wrote.

The National Rifle Association swiftly praised the decision on Twitter.

Meanwhile, pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety decried the decision, saying the conservative controlled Supreme Court “has decided to cave to the gun lobby’s extreme agenda and make it harder for states & cities to protect public safety”.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul also condemned the ruling.

“It is outrageous that at a moment of national reckoning on gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that limits those who can carry concealed weapons,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera