The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned New York’s restrictive gun law in a major gun rights ruling.
Judges 6-3 are expected to eventually allow more people to legally carry weapons on the streets of the country’s largest cities – including New York, Los Angeles and Boston – and elsewhere. About a quarter of the U.S. population lives in states that are expected to be affected by the ruling – the first major Supreme Court decision to use a weapon in more than a decade.
The decision came at a time when Congress is actively working on gun laws following the recent mass shootings in Texas, New York and California.
Judge Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution protects “the human right to carry a gun for self-defense outside the home.”
In their decision, the judges repealed New York City’s law, which requires people to demonstrate a special need to carry a weapon to obtain a license to carry a gun in public. The judges said that this requirement violates the right to “hold and bear arms” of the Second Amendment.
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar laws that can be challenged as a result of the ordinance. The Biden administration has urged judges to uphold New York law.
Proponents of the New York law have argued that its repeal will eventually lead to an increase in the number of weapons on the streets and an increase in violent crime. The decision was made at a time when gun violence, which had already intensified during the coronavirus pandemic, had intensified again.
In most parts of the country, gun owners have little difficulty with legally carrying guns in public. But it was harder to do in New York and in several states with similar laws. New York’s law, which has been in effect since 1913, states that in order to carry a concealed handgun in public, a person applying for a license must indicate a “proper reason,” a specific need to carry a weapon.
The state issues unlimited licenses if a person can carry a weapon anywhere, and limited licenses that allow a person to carry a weapon but only for certain purposes, such as hunting and target shooting, or to the location of their business and back.
The last time the Supreme Court made a serious decision on weapons was in 2010. In this decision and ruling of 2008, judges established a nationwide right to keep weapons at home for self-defense. The question for the court this time was about bringing one out of the house.
Earlier, the court said there were no problems with restrictions on carrying weapons in “sensitive areas”, including government buildings and schools. The same is said about the restriction of carrying weapons for criminals and the mentally ill.
The New York State Riflemen and Pistols Association has challenged New York City’s law, which calls itself the country’s oldest firearms advocacy organization, and two men seeking unlimited opportunities to carry guns outside the home.
The court’s decision is somewhat inconsistent with public opinion. About half of voters in the 2020 presidential election said gun laws in the U.S. should be stricter, according to AP VoteCast, a broad poll of voters. An additional third said laws should be kept as they are, while only about 1 in 10 said gun laws should be less stringent.
About 8 out of 10 Democrat voters said gun laws should be stricter, VoteCast showed. About half of Republican voters said the laws should be kept as they are, and the other half were closely divided into more or less strict ones.