In the first major gun rights case in more than ten years, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning that the New York state laws governing carrying of a firearm outside the home are unconstitutional. This was a major win for gun rights advocates across the nation. Not only could the ruling affect the law in New York state, but in other states with tight gun restrictions. These states include Delaware, California, Hawaii, and Illinois.
The Court voted by a margin of 6 – 3 that the regulations put forth by New York’s state legislature are “unconstitutionally restrictive,” and they make it increasingly difficult for citizens of the state to obtain a concealed carry license. In New York state, in order to receive one’s concealed carry certification, the person must show reason why he or she should be allowed a permit. Without “proper cause,” most New Yorkers are denied a permit. The state does, however, allow for individuals to transport weapons used for hunting.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion on the ruling, and he noted, “. . . petitioners and respondents agree that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have a similar right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense. We too agree . . .consistent with Heller and McDonald (the plaintiffs) that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home. Because . . . New York . . .only (issues concealed carry licenses) when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s (process by which one receives a permit) violates the Constitution.”
Andy McCarthy, judicial expert, discussed the decision with Bill Hemmer on Fox News shortly after the decision was rendered. McCarthy agreed with Justice Thomas’ opinion, and he said that the decision “is a faithful rendering of the Constitution.” Most notably, McCarthy reminded viewers: “The Second Amendment is not a right to bear arms so much as it is a pre-existing right to bear arms . . . as one of our natural rights. It’s not the granting of a right; it’s an acknowledgement of a right that already existed.It’s a prohibition on the government in regards to regulating that right.”
McCarthy went on to say that the Constitution wasn’t written stating that the government might be “doing a favor” to Americans, but rather the Constitution is a reminder of our natural rights.
However, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New Jersey’s governor both expressed disappointment at the ruling. Hochul said the state would continue to fight, and she said the state “won’t give up.” During her speech, she invoke images of the Buffalo shooting. The governor of New Jersey said the ruling was “reprehensible,” and “irresponsible.”
President Joe Biden has also made a statement on the ruling, saying that he and his administration will continue to fight to promote “safer communities” in the wake of gun violence in America.
During the oral arguments of the case – New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen – Justice Kavanaugh said, “Why isn’t it good enough to say I live in a violent area and I want to defend myself?” Based on these comments, many already believed that the Court would rule on the side of the plaintiffs.
It’s important to understand that the ruling does not strip away the concealed carry permit policy of New York state, but that it does do away with overly restrictive limits on the approval process. Conservatives did indicate that they respected the right of states to set “reasonable” limits, particularly regarding the places one could bring a firearm.
Even in states with open carry statutes, businesses may restrict said firearms by posting notices at entrances to the building.
The Supreme Court still has one dozen cases left to rule on before the session typically ends on June 30. In some cases, the Court has run slightly longer in the first session of the year, depending upon the caseload presented.
Americans are anxiously awaiting the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health organization ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade.