SCOTUS Strikes Down N.Y.'s Century-Old Gun Law, Making It Easier for Americans to Bear Arms in Public

·3 min read
SCOTUS Strikes Down N.Y.'s Century-Old Gun Law, Making It Easier for Americans to Bear Arms in Public

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Thursday to overturn a longstanding New York state law that requires "proper cause" to carry a handgun in public, a decision that broadens the government's interpretation of the Second Amendment and will likely have a ripple effect throughout the nation.

The law in question — which has existed for more than a century in New York state and is mimicked in similar legislation in a handful of other states — required residents to show that they have a special need for self-defense in order to obtain a concealed carry permit.

States that are likely to be affected by this ruling contain some of the nation's biggest cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and Boston, which has some concerned of increased gun violence by loosening restrictions in metropolitan areas.

In the majority opinion, penned by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court asserted that, "New York's proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms."

Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas

Drew Angerer/Getty Images Justice Clarence Thomas

The Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, guarantees all Americans the right to equal protection under the law and forbids states from denying citizens "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

But the dissenting opinion, helmed by outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer, argued that in interpreting the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, it is "constitutionally proper" and "often necessary" to take into consideration the consequences of gun violence that have led states to pass gun safety laws in the first place.

"Many States have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence ... by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms of different kinds," Breyer wrote. "The Court today severely burdens States' efforts to do so."

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President Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday morning that called on Americans to continue making their voices heard on gun safety and called on states to continue passing "commonsense" gun laws to protect their residents.

"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," he wrote. "As the late Justice Scalia recognized, the Second Amendment is not absolute. For centuries, states have regulated who may purchase or possess weapons, the types of weapons they may use, and the places they may carry those weapons. And the courts have upheld these regulations."

RELATED: N.Y. Gov. Signs 10 Gun Safety Bills into Law, Sets New Precedent: 'Thoughts and Prayers Won't Fix This'

"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," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted immediately after the decision was released.

"In response to this ruling, we are closely reviewing our options — including calling a special session of the legislature," Hochul continued. "Just as we swiftly passed nation-leading gun reform legislation, I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence."

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