Supreme Court gun ruling overturns NY rule that sets high bar for concealed carry licenses

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The Supreme Court ruled Thursday, 6-3, that New York regulations made it difficult to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun, and that such a license should be easy to obtain.

The current standard requires an applicant to show “reasonable reason” to obtain a license, and is allowed New York officials To exercise discretion in determining whether a person has shown sufficient cause for the need to carry a firearm. To say that one wanted to protect oneself or one’s property was not enough.

“In this case, petitioners and defendants agree that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have an equal right to carry a handgun in public for their self-defense. We also agree, and now in line with Heller and McDonald’s that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect a person’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the Court’s opinion, citing two previous gun cases. “Because New York State issues a public-carry license only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the state’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”

Thomas noted that state statute does not define what “reasonable cause” means, and courts ruled that the standard was met by those who showed a “special need for self-protection.”

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FILE – A handgun is reviewed from a collection of illegal guns during a gun buyback event on May 22, 2021 in Brooklyn, NY.
(AP photo/Babeto Mathews, file)

“This ‘special needs’ standard is demanding,” Thomas wrote. “For example, living or working in an area ‘renowned for criminal activity’ is not sufficient.”

In 43 other states, Thomas said, officials are required to issue licenses to applicants who meet certain requirements, and officials do not have the discretion to say what they believe is an inadequate requirement.

In an agreed opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Thursday’s ruling does not prohibit states from setting requirements for obtaining carry licenses, and it “only addresses unusual discretionary licensing arrangements.[.],

Case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. vs Bruen, the first major gun rights case before the Supreme Court in more than a decade. In the majority opinion, Thomas referred to the 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago and 2008 DC v. Heller in his argument for Thursday’s decision.

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“As we said at Heller and reiterated at McDonald’s, ‘personal self-defense’ is a ‘central component’ of the Second Amendment right,” Justice was quoted as saying. He also mentioned how Heller clarified that a ban on carrying guns in “sensitive locations” is permissible, and how New York was wrong to argue that this law was doing just that.

,[W]E thinks respondents have made a mistake in their attempt to characterize New York’s reasonable-cause requirement as a ‘sensitive-location’ law,” Thomas wrote, explaining that New York sees “sensitive places” as anywhere. is “where people typically congregate and where law-enforcement and other public safety professionals are potentially available.”

This definition is too broad, Thomas said.

“Simply put, there is no historical basis for New York to effectively declare Manhattan Island a “vulnerable location,” as it is typically crowded and guarded by the New York City Police Department,” he wrote.

Orthodox justice also saw the simple language of second Amendment, which protects the right to “keep and bear arms”. He described keeping and bearing as two different things, noting that Heller defines “bear” as “wearing, bearing, or carrying”. It’s meant to be taken in public, Thomas said, because one wouldn’t typically wear their gun in a holster at home, but would “keep” it somewhere.

The 63-page opinion also explored the historical restrictions on carrying handguns on which New York relied. Thomas explained why they don’t justify an existing ban, noting how centuries ago the previous rules focused on “dangerous and unusual weapons”, whereas today handguns are relatively common. While handguns were considered dangerous and unusual during colonial times, Rai said, it is the “quintessential self-defense weapon” in modern times.

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The Court’s opinion also held that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms should not be placed at a lower level than other constitutional right,

“We don’t know of any other constitutional right that a person can exercise government officials only after they’ve demonstrated some special need. The First Amendment doesn’t work when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion.” That’s not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to the right to face witnesses against a defendant. And that’s not how the Second Amendment works when taken in public for self-defense,” Thomas wrote. .

Justice Stephen Breyer Wrote a passionate dissenting opinion in which he noted present-day enthusiasm over gun violence as well as recent events. Joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, Breyer cited figures including 45,222 Americans killed by firearms in the US in 2020, the number of mass shootings that have already occurred in 2022, and gun violence now for children. is the main cause of death. and teenagers.

Breyer wrote, “Many states have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence described by passing laws limiting the number of ways in which people can buy, carry, or use different types of firearms. Huh.” “The court today has placed a heavy burden on the efforts of the states to do so.”

Justice Samuel Alito, in a concurring opinion, took issue with the references to Breuer’s recent firing.

“Does the dissenter think that laws like New York prevent or prevent such atrocities? Will a person who is bent on committing a mass shooting be stopped if he knows that it is illegal to carry a handgun outside the home?” Alito asked. “And how does the disagreement account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list happened in Buffalo? New York law in this case clearly didn’t stop that perpetrator.”

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Breuer recognized legitimate purposes for guns, such as sports, self-defense, or employment types such as security guards, but said it is the responsibility of elected officials to “against the dangers of firearms for these legitimate uses” when legislating. balance out.

“This view warrants modesty and restraint on the part of judges when they interpret and apply the Second Amendment,” he said.