On June 23, the Supreme Court made an incredibly historical decision to strike down a New York gun law that held the purpose of placing restrictions on an individual’s ability to carry a concealed firearm outside of their home.
“In 43 States, the government issues licenses to carry based on objective criteria. But in six States, including New York, the government further conditions issuance of a license to carry on a citizen’s showing of some additional special need,” said Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the 6-3 majority. “Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”
Over a century ago, the state of New York declared it a criminal offense for an individual to carry a concealed gun without holding a permit. The law was later altered so that magistrates were allowed the ability to issue a concealed carry license to those that held “good moral character” and “proper cause.” Sadly, both of these requirements are incredibly vague and subjective to say the least.
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the present case, involved this same state law. After two gun owners were barred from carrying a firearm in public, they deemed the law as unconstitutional and decided to challenge it in court.
“Why isn’t it good enough to say, I live in a violent area and I want to be able to defend myself?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh questioned during oral arguments. “That’s the real concern, isn’t it, with any constitutional right, if it’s the discretion of an individual officer, that seems inconsistent with an objective constitutional right.”
It has been over 14 years since the Court ruled on a Second Amendment case, citing the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. This 2008 case involved the issue of whether a citizen has a right to possess a firearm in their home. The present day case concerns whether a citizen has a right to carry a firearm out in public for self-defense purposes.
“We too agree, and now hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” Justice Thomas wrote.
The opinion stated:
“If the last decade of Second Amendment litigation has taught this Court anything, it is that federal courts tasked with making such difficult empirical judgments regarding firearm regulations under the banner of ‘intermediate scrutiny’ often defer to the determinations of legislatures. But while that judicial deference to legislative interest balancing is understandable—and, elsewhere, appropriate—it is not deference that the Constitution demands here. The Second Amendment ‘is the very product of an interest balancing by the people’ and it ‘surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms’ for self-defense.
The SCOTUS ruling is likely to have an impact on a newly proposed Congressional gun control legislation in addition to any other pending cases in the six US states that still had laws requiring a petitioner to reveal “proper cause” in order to qualify for a concealed carry license.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul stated the decision is “frightful in its scope of how they are setting back this nation and our ability to protect our citizens.”
“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. … Does everyone understand what a concealed weapon means? That you have no forewarning that someone can hide a weapon on them and go into our subways. Go into our grocery stores like stores up in Buffalo New York run from going to a school in Parkland or Uvalde. This could place millions of New Yorkers in harm’s way,”