Supreme Court strikes down New York gun law, making it easier for Americans to carry handguns

Posted 48 days ago


WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Thursday invalidated a New York law that requires state residents to have "proper cause" to carry a handgun, a decision that could make it easier for millions of Americans to arm themselves in public as the nation is reeling from a string of mass shootings.

The case was among the most closely watched this term on a docket full of culture war issues such as abortion, religious freedom and climate change. The decision had the potential to shift the landscape on Second Amendment rights at a time when Americans remain divided over access to guns.

"New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms," Thomas wrote in an opinion joined by five other conservative justices.

The decision landed 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 in the May 14 killing of 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Four others were killed June 1 in a shooting at an Oklahoma medical facility.

The shootings prompted a response from the other two branches of government. A bipartisan group of senators this week revealed the text of a sweeping gun reform package that, if passed, could end decades of partisan gridlock and inaction on the issue.

In a dissent joined by the court's other two liberal justices, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer started by writing that 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms in 2020 and that gun violence has surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.

"Many states have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence just described by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms of different kinds," Breyer wrote. "The court today severely burdens states’ efforts to do so."

More than a decade ago, the high court ruled that Americans have an individual right under the Second Amendment to possess guns in their homes settling a debate over whether the Constitution guaranteed that right only for individuals or militias. But the court left unanswered whether the same right exists beyond a home's front door.

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