Dear Commons Community,
The US Supreme Court struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry one in public. The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, was the first major gun rights case before the Supreme Court in more than a decade.
The justices said the requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws likely to be challenged as a result of the ruling. The Biden administration had urged the justices to uphold New York’s law.
The justices’ 6-3 decision is expected to ultimately allow more people to legally carry guns on the streets of the nation’s largest cities — including New York, Los Angeles and Boston — and elsewhere.
About a quarter of the U.S. population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling, the high court’s first major gun decision in more than a decade.
This ruling comes as Congress is actively working on gun legislation following recent mass shootings in Texas,New York and California.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said she was “sorry that this dark day has come.”
“That we’re supposed to go back to what was in place in 1788 when the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified,” Hochul said during remarks Thursday morning. “I would like to point out to the Supreme Court justices that the only weapons at the time were muskets. I’m prepared to go back to muskets. I don’t think they envisioned the high-capacity assault weapon magazines intended for battlefields as being covered, but I guess we’re just going to have to disagree.”
Hochul said that she was considering a special session of the state Legislature, adding on Twitter, “It is outrageous that at a moment of national reckoning on gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that limits those who can carry concealed weapons. … Just as we swiftly passed nation-leading gun reform legislation, I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence.”
Some of the state’s top law enforcement officials also responded. The New York state attorney general’s office said in a statement, “We are currently reviewing the decision from the Supreme Court on New York’s ability to regulate who can carry firearms in public. But we will continue to do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers from gun violence and preserve our state’s common sense gun laws.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said, “At this very moment, my office is analyzing this ruling and crafting gun safety legislation that will take the strongest steps possible to mitigate the damage done today.”
Other prominent New York Democrats expressed frustration at the potential fallout from the ruling.
“We will work together to limit the risk this decision will create once it is implemented,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “And we cannot allow New York to become the Wild Wild West. That is unacceptable. We will not allow our city to live in fear that everyone around us is armed, that any altercation could evolve into a shootout.We will not allow the men and women of the police department to be subjected to further danger making their already difficult jobs even more harrowing.”
“Today’s Supreme Court decision may have opened an additional river that is going to feed the sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation,” he added. “Now is the time for every elected official who cares about the safety of all Americans to come together and respond thoroughly and comprehensively to this appalling decision.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision will deepen the crisis of gun violence in NYC and beyond,” wrote Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., who represents part of the Bronx. “Striking down the proper cause requirement, as SCOTUS has done, means allowing the average person a right to carry a gun in public, even in a city as densely populated as NY.”
Top Democrats in Congress and governors’ seats across the country also criticized the ruling.
“In the wake of horrific gun violence in Buffalo & Uvalde, the Supreme Court’s radical conservative majority has taken us further back, unilaterally weakening gun safety laws across the nation,” wrote Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “Countless American lives are endangered by this decision, including in Massachusetts.”
“A dark day in America,” wrote Gov. Gavin Newsom ofCalifornia. “This is a dangerous decision from a court hell bent on pushing a radical ideological agenda and infringing on the rights of states to protect our citizens from being gunned down in our streets, schools, and churches. Shameful.”
A dark day indeed!