The Supreme Court struck down New York’s century-old law restricting the carrying of concealed firearms on Thursday.
The ruling is its first major Second Amendment decision in more than a decade and could lead to more weapons on the streets, as well as subways, churches, bars, and airports.
Writing for a 6-3 court, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that “when the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct.”
“To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest,” Thomas added.
“Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
New York law that restricts firearms is in force since 1913
The New York state law, on the books since 1913, requires that a person who wants a license to carry a handgun in public show “proper cause” that the weapon is specifically needed for self-defense rather than a desire to protect themselves or their property.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and two Upstate men sued, claiming the law violated their Second Amendment rights.
Paul Clement, the lawyer representing the association, told the justices during oral arguments last November that his clients are seeking “nothing more than their fellow citizens in 43 other states already enjoy.”
New York authorities are “extremely concerned”
New York Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul have feared that an unfavorable ruling would lead to more people carrying weapons in public even as gun violence has surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Carrying a firearm outside the home is a fundamental constitutional right. It is not some extraordinary action that requires an extraordinary demonstration of need,” he said at the time.
“It keeps me up at night,” Adams told WABC-TV in an interview Sunday. “We have some of the most stringent gun permitting laws…I’m extremely concerned about this. My legal team is now communicating with other cities and states to determine how…we [might] come together to be prepared for this ruling.”