- The 6-3 decision divided the court along ideological lines with a majority conservative.
- The court said the law unconstitutionally prevents people from exercising their second amendment rights.
- In disagreement, Justice Breyer said the ruling “puts a serious strain on states’ efforts to stop gun violence.”
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a New York law requiring residents of the state to have a “reasonable reason” to have a handgun, a decision that could make it easier for millions of Americans to arm themselves in public as the nation faces one problem after another. Is going. A series of mass shootings.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for a 6-3 majority.
The case was most closely watched on a docket full of issues of culture warfare such as abortion, religious freedom and climate change. This decision has the potential to change the landscape on Second Amendment rights when Americans are divided over access to guns.
“New York’s right-to-reason requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in which it prevents law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to bear arms and endure with common self-defense requirements,” Thomas wrote in an opinion attached to five other conservative judges.
The decision came weeks after an 18-year-old gunman armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle fatally shot 19 children and two teachers at a school in Texas. Another 18-year-old has been charged with killing 10 people on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Four other people were killed in a June 1 shooting at the Oklahoma Medical Facility.
The firing drew a response from two other branches of government. A bipartisan group of senators this week unveiled the text of a sweeping gun reform package that, if passed, could end decades of partisan gridlock and inaction on the issue.
In a disagreement with two other liberal judges of the court, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer began by writing that 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms in 2020 and that gun violence has overtaken motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.
“Many states have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence by passing legislation, in various ways, to those who can buy, carry or use different types of firearms,” Breyer wrote. “The court today places great emphasis on the efforts of the states to do so.”
More than a decade ago, the High Court ruled that the Second Amendment settles the debate over whether Americans have the individual right to own guns in their homes, whether the Constitution guarantees that right only to individuals or the military. But the court did not respond as to whether the same right existed outside the front door of the house.
The issue is New York law that requires residents to have a “reasonable reason” to have a handgun – in other words, more permits than the general public. Two upstate New York residents, joined by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, sued while the county’s licensing officer denied them the concessions they were seeking.
The court’s decision was celebrated by gun rights groups.
“Today’s ruling is a watershed victory for good men and women across America and the result of decades of fighting by the NRA,” said Wayne Lapierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. “The right to self-defense and to protect your family and loved ones should not end in your home.”
Gun control groups, on the other hand, insisted it would increase violence.
“Today’s ruling is out of step with a bipartisan majority in Congress that is close to passing a significant gun safety law, and out of touch with a majority of Americans who support gun safety measures,” said Everitown President John Fenblatt. Gun safety. “Let’s be clear: the Supreme Court has taken this decision wrong by choosing to put our communities at greater risk with the rising gun violence across the country.”
During a two-hour oral argument in November, it was clear that the majority favored New York law to strike. The real question in this case is the scope of the court ruling and how many similar gun rules it will affect across the country.
At least six other Democratic-led states have licensing regimes like New York – including California, Maryland and New Jersey. Together, those states represent about a quarter of the country’s population.
The judges wrestled with the limits on the right to own a gun in public and whether those limits should be more clear in densely populated places like New York City. They papered plaintiffs with speculations about whether they could ban handguns on the New York City subway or at Yankee Stadium. What on the college campus or in the bar?
Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that other states, including larger cities, have more permissive gun regulations without major consequences. But the court’s liberal judges pushed back that statement, arguing that the city of Chicago is the case for how more guns can increase crime rates.
“I mean, most people believe that Chicago, like, is the worst city in the world in terms of gun violence,” Associate Justice Elena Kagan said at the time. “Chicago doesn’t think so, but everyone else thinks about Chicago.”
Much has been done in the court’s decision to hear the case last year, as judges have rejected second-amendment appeals over the years and also because they seem to be putting a brake on issues of culture war in general. Since then, 6-3 conservative courts have agreed to reconsider the extent to which states can consider races when drawing political boundaries such as abortion, positive action policies in college admissions, and congressional districts.
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President Joe Biden’s administration, which backed New York in the lawsuit, said at least six other states had similar laws. The Federal District Court of New York rejected the challenge of the New York permitting scheme in 2018 and the decision was upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the 2G circuit.