WASHINGTON. The Supreme Court said on Thursday a major expansion of gun rights that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, a ruling likely to see more people legally armed in and out of cities. . The decision was made in the wake of recent mass shootings fresh in the memory of the nation and gun control discussions in Congress and states.
About a quarter of the US population lives in states that are expected to be affected by the ordinance repealing gun laws in New York. The Supreme Court’s first major gun decision in over a decade came in a 6-3 split with conservatives in the majority in the court and liberals in dissent.
Meanwhile, across the street from the Capitol, Congress has accelerated its own gun laws in the wake of mass shootings in Texas, New York, and California. Senators cleared the way for this measure, modest in scope but still the most far-reaching in decades.
That same Thursday, highlighting the nation’s deep divisions on the issue, the sister of a 9-year-old girl killed in a school shooting in Uvalda, Texas, pleaded with state lawmakers in Austin to pass a gun law that would run counter to Republicans. relaxation of restrictions in recent years by a controlled body.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision, which he said “is against both common sense and the Constitution and should be of deep concern to all of us.”
He urged states to pass new laws and said, “I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard about gun safety. On the line of life.”
The court ruling overturned a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a special need to carry a gun in order to obtain a license to carry a gun in public. The judges said the requirement violated the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution protects “the right of the individual to carry a pistol for self-defense outside the home.” This right is not a “second-class right,” Thomas wrote. “We do not know of any other constitutional right that a person can exercise only after demonstrating some special need to public servants.”
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have laws similar to those of New York.
New York Gov. Katie Hochul said the decision comes at a particularly painful time as New York City still mourns the deaths of 10 people in the Buffalo supermarket mass shooting. “This decision is not just reckless. This is reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want,” she said.
But Tom King, the plaintiff’s president of the New York State Riflemen and Pistols Association, said he was relieved.
“The lawful and legal gun owner in New York State will no longer be prosecuted under laws that have nothing to do with the safety of the people and will do nothing for their safety,” he said. “And maybe now we will begin to pursue the criminals and perpetrators of these vile deeds.”
The court’s decision is somewhat inconsistent with public opinion. According to an extensive Associated Press VoteCast poll of the electorate, about half of voters in the 2020 presidential election said gun laws in the US should be stricter. Another third of said laws should be left as they are, and only about 1 in 10 of said gun laws should be less restrictive.
About 8 out of 10 Democratic voters said gun laws should be made stricter, according to VoteCast. Among Republican voters, roughly half said the laws should be left as they are, with the remaining half split into more or less strict ones.
In a judicial dissent joined on Thursday by his Liberal colleagues, Judge Steven Breyer focused on the toll suffered by gun violence. “Since the beginning of this year (2022) alone, there have already been 277 mass shootings — an average of more than one per day,” Breuer wrote.
Supporters of the New York law argued that its repeal would lead to more guns on the streets and higher levels of violent crime. Gun violence, which was already on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic, has flared up again.
In most countries, gun owners have no problem carrying guns legally in public. But this was more difficult to do in New York and several states with similar laws. New York State law, in effect since 1913, states that in order to carry a concealed handgun in public, a person applying for a license must show “good cause”, that is, a specific need to carry a weapon.
The state issues unlimited licenses, which allow a person to carry their weapon anywhere, and limited licenses, which allow a person to carry a weapon, but only for certain purposes, such as hunting and target shooting, or to and from work.
The New York law has been challenged by the New York State Riflemen and Pistols Association, which claims to be the nation’s oldest gun defense organization, and two men seeking unlimited freedom to carry guns outside the home.
The last time the Supreme Court made a major decision on guns was in 2010. In this decision and a 2008 ruling, the judges established a national right to keep weapons at home for self-defense purposes. This time, the question arose before the court about taking one out of the house. Thomas wrote, in his opinion, that: “Nothing in the text of the Second Amendment distinguishes between the home and the community with respect to the right to keep and bear arms.”
Associated Press reporters Mark Sherman, Hannah Fingerhut and Zeke Miller in Washington DC and Michael Hill in East Greenbush, New York contributed to this report.