U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right to carry firearms outside the home, overturning a New York law that set strict limits

In a landmark and extremely controversial decision, the strong conservative majority of the Supreme Court has enshrined the right to bear arms outside the home.

What the six conservative Supreme Court justices have done, over the dissent of three progressive justices, is to declare unconstitutional a New York state law that imposed strict controls on the issuance of licenses to carry guns in public. The nearly century-old rule required a showing of “proper cause” to obtain such a permit and other requirements such as proving “good moral character.” It had been challenged in court, with support from the state chapter of the NRA, by two New Yorkers who had restricted licenses for hunting and target practice, and in the case of one to carry his gun on work commutes, but were denied a full permit.

The majority of the Supreme Court agrees with them. And with its decision it makes the largest and most relevant extension of an ironclad originalist and omnipotent interpretation of the Second Amendment since 2008 when also a conservative majority on the High Court recognized the right to bear arms for self-defense in the home.

Justice Clarence Thomas, author of the majority opinion, has written that states may continue to veto guns in certain places deemed “sensitive” among which he cited schools, government buildings, legislatures, polling places and courthouses but also cautioned against “overly broad” interpretation of what constitutes one of those places. In the dissenting opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Breyer replied, “What about subways, nightclubs, movie theaters, stadiums?” No answer.

The concrete impact of the sentence remains to be seen. For now it returns the New York case to a lower court and intense legal battles are expected both in the state and in the six others that have similarly restrictive laws, Its broader reach, in any case, is undeniable, and it comes at a height of the firearms debate.

Numerous states are trying to legislate in the face of rising gun violence, especially in urban areas. And there are still echoes of shock after recent killings at a school in Uvalde (Texas) and at a supermarket in Buffalo (New York), where the perpetrator of the mass shooting acted with racist motivations. Precisely that shock has contributed to a breakthrough not achieved in nearly three decades: for the first time in that time, Congress is ready to pass gun control legislation with bipartisan support.

The response to Thursday’s ruling has swung between exultation from the NRA and celebration from Republican leaders, a rise in the stock market price of gun industry shares and horror and outrage among pro-regulation activists, lawmakers and Democratic authorities, especially those seeking more gun control.

The President, Joe Biden, has issued a statement in which, in addition to showing his “disappointment”, he has assured that “the ruling contradicts common sense and the Constitution and should deeply concern us all”, a message that has also been sent by the President of the United States. a message also sent by Vice President Kamala Harris.

In New York, the state directly affected for now, Governor Kathy Hochul plans to convene a legislative session in July to seek answers to a ruling she has defined as “reckless” and “reprehensible” . “They have taken away our right to have reasonable restrictions,” she has denounced. “We can have restrictions on free speech, you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, but somehow no restrictions on the Second Amendment are allowed.”

Also New York Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer, has sharply criticized a ruling that he predicts will “put New Yorkers at more risk of gun violence” and has vowed to fight it, saying, “We cannot allow New York to become the Wild West.”

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