Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in Thursday's majority opinion that a weapons law is constitutional only if the government demonstrates 'that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.'
by WorldTribune Staff, June 24, 2022
In a 6-3 decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down New York state’s system for issuing concealed-weapons permits, ruling that the law requiring that applicants demonstrate “proper cause” and “good moral character” violates the Second Amendment.
Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said the law’s requirement of New Yorkers who want a permit to carry a handgun in public to show “proper cause” that the weapon is specifically needed for self-defense “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”
Thomas added: “Nothing in the Second Amendment’s text draws a home/public distinction with respect to the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment guarantees an ‘individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,’ and confrontation can surely take place outside the home.”
The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, "marks the widest expansion of gun rights since 2010, when the court applied nationwide a 2008 ruling establishing an individual right of armed self-defense within the home," the Wall Street Journal noted.
The Supreme Court "rejected the legal method overwhelmingly used by lower courts to evaluate gun regulations, which has considered such government interests as crime prevention," the Journal added. "Under that standard, most weapons laws have been upheld since the Supreme Court first recognized an individual right under the Second Amendment in its 2008 decision on District of Columbia v. Heller and a subsequent ruling in McDonald v. Chicago in 2010."
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined the opinion.
Tom King, executive director of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, which brought Thursday’s case, said the decision “means that the people in New York state and hopefully the nation are going to be allowed the benefit of the Second Amendment rather than having their rights limited by left leaning politicians.”
King’s group, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, has been litigating against New York’s gun laws for years, making Thursday’s ruling a milestone achievement for the group. While the court’s dissenters raised the specter of gun violence, King said, “they are creating victims by keeping firearms out of the hands of the lawful gun owners.”
Thursday's decision is likely to affect other states and the District of Columbia which have similar permitting laws. The other states are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Joe Biden said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” by the court’s opinion. “This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all,” he said. Biden urged states to “continue to enact and enforce commonsense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams claimed at a news conference with NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell that “nothing changes today” as a result of the ruling, noting that the decision was remanded to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its earlier decision upholding the state law.
“If you have a premise permit, it does not automatically convert to a carry permit,” Sewell warned. “If you carry a gun illegally in New York City, you will be arrested. Nothing changes today, and that’s important for everyone to be aware of.”
In a separate opinion concurring with Thomas, Kavanaugh and Roberts wrote that Thursday’s ruling does not preclude state and local restrictions on gun ownership by felons and the mentally ill — or laws banning the carrying of firearms in “sensitive locations” like schools and government buildings.
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