On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued ruled that Americans have the right to carry arms outside of the home and in public, a major victory for advocates of the Second Amendment. The high court voted 6-3 in striking down a New York law that said gun owners must demonstrate a need to carry firearms outside the home to obtain a legal permit. All six conservative justices voted against the New York law, and the three progressive justices voted to uphold the gun-safety statute.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas said the New York law goes too far in restricting legal possession of firearms and said it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “Because the state of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the state’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring at the end of the current term, wrote a dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Breyer wrote: “In 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms. Since the start of this year, there have been 277 reported mass shootings — an average of more than one per day.” The high court’s three progressive justices also said: “Many states have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence … by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms of different kinds. The court today severely burdens states’ efforts to do so.”
President Joe Biden was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, saying: “In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo, [N.Y.], and Uvalde, [Texas], as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans. I urge states to continue to enact and enforce commonsense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence. As the late Justice [Antonin] Scalia recognized, the Second Amendment is not absolute. For centuries, states have regulated who may purchase or possess weapons, the types of weapons they may use, and the places they may carry those weapons. And the courts have upheld these regulations.”
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