WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Americans have a broad right to arm themselves in public, overturning a law in New York that imposes strict limits on the carrying of guns outside the home and setting off conflict in other states with similar restrictions.
The decision is expected to spur a wave of lawsuits seeking to loosen existing federal and government restrictions, and will force five states — California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, home to a quarter of all Americans — to rewrite their laws.
The ruling came on the heels of last month’s mass shootings in Buffalo and Ovaldi, Texas, and was issued on the day the Senate A set of modest arms control measures was almost approvedIt is a major step toward ending the years-long deadlock in Congress.
Resolution 6 to 3 demonstrates once again the power of the six conservative justices, who all voted to repeal the New York law, in setting the national agenda on social issues. The tribunal’s three liberal members objected.
The Second Amendment, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote to a majority, protects “the individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” Judge Thomas wrote that states could continue to ban guns in some locations such as schools and government buildings, but the ruling was left open where exactly such a ban could be allowed.
Moments after the sentencing, New York Governor Kathy Hochhol Pledge to reconvene the legislature early next month to enact new measures that could allow the state to maintain existing regulations. Democratic lawmakers in Maryland also suggested that they would rewrite the legislation to meet anticipated legal challenges.
“We are already dealing with a major gun violence crisis,” Ms. Hochhol said. “We don’t need to add more fuel to this fire.”
The issue of so-called laws may give government officials significant discretion regarding the issuance of gun licenses.
In an agreed opinion, which seemed to limit the sweep of majority opinion, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., wrote that laws “must pass” used objective criteria and remained constitutional by default. He wrote that states were generally free to require “fingerprinting, background checks, examinations of mental health records, training in the handling of firearms, and in laws relating to the use of force.”
Judge Kavanaugh also widely quoted the 2008 court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which appears to support other restrictions.
President Biden denounced the ruling, describing himself as “deeply disappointed.” He added that this “contradicts logic and the constitution and should deeply disturb us.”
Gun rights advocates welcomed the decision on Thursday. “The court has made clear that the Second Amendment to the right to bear arms is not limited to the home,” said Larry Kane, a senior official at the arms industry’s largest trade group, the National Shooting Sports Corporation. “The onus is on the government to justify the restrictions, and it is not on the individual to justify to the government his need to exercise his rights.”
Stock prices of firearms manufacturers rose on Wall Streetwith Smith & Wesson climbing more than 9 percent.
Jonathan Lowe, an attorney at Brady Gun Control, said the decision was a huge slip. “With a stroke of the pen, today the Supreme Court has created a supposed right to carry loaded guns, just about anywhere – to shoot and kill other people,” he said in a statement.
The case centered on a lawsuit by two men who were denied the licenses they requested in New York, saying that “the state makes it virtually impossible for the law-abiding average citizen to obtain a license.”
State officials told the Supreme Court that the two men, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, were allowed to carry handguns for target and hunting training away from populated areas, and Mr. Koch was allowed to carry a gun to and from work.
Justice Thomas wrote that citizens may not be required to explain to the government why they are seeking to exercise a constitutional right.
He wrote, “We do not know of any other constitutional right that an individual may not exercise until after he shows government officers some special needs.”
“This is not the way the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular rhetoric or the freedom to practice religion,” he added. “This is not the way the Sixth Amendment operates when it comes to the accused’s right to confront witnesses against him. And this is not the way the Second Amendment works when it comes to the public conduct of self-defense.”
The majority opinion declared a general standard by which courts should now judge restrictions on gun rights, a standard based on historical assessments: “The government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical traditions regarding the regulation of firearms.”
By focusing so heavily on history, Justice Thomas rejected the standard used by most lower courts, which considered whether the law presented an important governmental interest.
He admitted that the historical investigation now required by the court would not always be direct.
Justice Thomas wrote that states are still free to ban guns in sensitive places, giving some examples: schools, government buildings, legislatures, polling places, and courts. But he cautioned that “extending the category of ‘sensitive places’ to simply include all places of public gathering that are not insulated from law enforcement defines the category of ‘sensitive places’ very broadly.”
In the case of dissent, Justice Stephen J. Breyer said the majority guidance was insufficient, blurring the scope of the court’s ruling.
“What about the subway, nightclubs, cinemas, sports stadiums?” Judge Breyer wrote. “The court does not say.”
Judge Breyer’s dissent, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, focused on the fatal toll of gun violence.
He wrote: “In 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms. Since the beginning of this year, 277 mass shootings have been reported – an average of more than one shooting per day. Gun violence has now surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.” .
In a favorable opinion, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on the opposition.
“It is hard to see what legitimate purpose a prolonged introductory section of the opposition could serve,” he wrote. “Why, for example, does the opposition think it is appropriate to list the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years? Do opponents believe that laws like those of New York prevent or deter such atrocities?”
“Will anyone bent on mass shooting be stopped if they knew it was illegal to carry a gun outside the home?” asked Judge Alito. “And how do opponents explain the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of the list occurred in Buffalo? Clearly, the New York law at hand in this case did not stop that perpetrator.”
Justice Breyer questioned the majority’s methodology for ruling the constitutionality of gun control laws in the case, New York State Rifle and Handgun Association v. Bruin, No. 20-843.
“The court’s near-exclusive reliance on history is not only superfluous, it is highly impractical,” he wrote. “It imposes a task on the lower courts that judges cannot easily accomplish.”
He wrote that the judges are not historians. “Legal experts usually have little experience in answering disputed historical questions or applying those answers to solving contemporary problems,” he wrote, adding, “Laws dealing with the repetition of crossbows, sinkers, daggers, daggers, muskets, and other ancient weapons would not It helps a lot to the courts facing the problems of the times.”
In Heller’s decision, the Supreme Court Recognize the individual right to keep guns at home for self-defense. Since then, he has been virtually silent about the scope of Second Amendment rights.
In fact, for many years the Court has dismissed countless appeals in Second Amendment cases. Meanwhile, lower courts generally continued gun control laws.
The Court’s reluctance to hear Second Amendment cases has changed as its membership has shifted to the oath in recent years. President Donald J. Trump’s three appointees — Justices Kavanaugh, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Connie Barrett — have voiced their support for gun rights.
The most conservative members of the Supreme Court have long lamented the Court’s reluctance to explore the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment.
In 2017, Justice Thomas wrote that he had discovered “a painful trend: treating the Second Amendment as an unwelcome right.”
“To those of us who work in marble halls, constantly guarded by a vigilant and dedicated police force, Second Amendment safeguards may seem outdated and unnecessary,” Judge Thomas wrote. But the decision makers made a clear choice: They reserved for all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense.
Glenn Thrush Contribute to the preparation of reports.