On Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down New York’s century-old law restricting the carrying of concealed firearms, the first major Second Amendment decision in more than a decade and a ruling that could lead to more weapons on streets, subways, churches, bars, Airports and pretty much anywhere people congregate.
Writing for the 6-3 Court, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote: “When the Second Amendment expressly covers an individual act, the constitutional presumption protects that act.
To justify its regulation, the government may not simply assume that the regulation promotes an important interest,” Thomas added. “Instead, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the country’s historical tradition of gun control.
The ruling could also affect similar “may release” laws in New Jersey, California, Maryland, Hawaii and Massachusetts.
New York state law, which has been on the books since 1913, requires people who want a license to carry a handgun in public to show “good cause” that the weapon is specifically needed for self-defense, not to protect their own wishes or their property.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and two Upstate men sued, claiming the law violated their Second Amendment rights.
Attorney Paul Clement, who represents the association, told the judge during oral arguments last November that his client was seeking “no more than that already enjoyed by fellow citizens in the other 43 states.”
“It is a fundamental constitutional right to go out with a firearm. This is not an extraordinary act requiring extraordinary proof of need,” he said at the time.
Some conservative justices, including Brett Kavanaugh, appeared to support that argument.
“Why is it not good enough to say that I live in a violent area and that I want to be able to defend myself? … If it is the discretion of individual officials, it seems inconsistent with objective constitutional rights,” Kavanaugh said last year. said in an oral argument in November.
New York Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul worry that even as gun violence spikes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the unfavorable ruling will lead to more people carrying weapons in public.
“It keeps me awake at night,” Adams said in an interview with WABC-TV on Sunday. “We have some of the strictest gun licensing laws. …I am very concerned about this. My legal team is now in communication with other cities and states to determine how we can come together to prepare for this ruling.”
Thursday’s decision was the court’s first major Second Amendment ruling since 2010, when it ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms applies to states through the 14th Amendment.