WASHINGTON (AP) – In a significant extension of gun rights following a series of mass shootings, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, a decision that could lead to more legal action. . The decision comes as Congress and states discuss gun control legislation.
About a quarter of the U.S. population lives in states that are expected to be affected by the ruling, which overturned New York’s gun law. The Supreme Court’s first major arms deal in more than a decade split the court 6-3, with the court’s Conservatives in the majority and the Liberals disagreeing.
Opposite the court, lawmakers in the Capitol rushed to pass legislation on guns caused by recent massacres in Texas, New York and California. The senators paved the way for the measure, mediocre in scope, but still the most extensive in decades.
Also Thursday, highlighting the nation’s deep disagreements over the issue, the sister of a 9-year-old girl who was shot dead at a school in Uvalde, Texas, called on state lawmakers to pass gun legislation. The Republican-controlled legislature has lifted restrictions on gun ownership over the past decade.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court ruling. “It is contrary to both common sense and the Constitution and should concern us all deeply,” he said.
He urged states to pass new laws. “I urge Americans across the country to have their voices heard on gun safety. “Lives are on the line,” he said.
The ruling overturned a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a special need to carry a firearm in order to obtain a permit to carry a firearm in secret. The judges said that this requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “hold and bear arms”.
Judge Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution protects “the right of an individual to carry a weapon of self-defense outside the home.” This right is not a “second category right”, wrote Thomas. “We do not know of any other constitutional right that an individual can exercise only after demonstrating a special need to government officials.”
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have laws similar to those in New York. These laws are expected to be challenged quickly.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, DN.Y., said the decision came at a particularly painful time, with New York mourning the deaths of 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket shooting. “This decision is not just reckless. It is reprehensible. “It’s not what New Yorkers want.”
Arms control teams described the decision as a significant setback. Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Justice Center and an expert on Second Amendment, wrote on Twitter that the ruling could be the “greatest extension of gun rights” by the Supreme Court in U.S. history.
Republican lawmakers were among those cheering the decision. Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said he was relieved.
“The lawful and lawful owner of weapons in New York State will no longer be prosecuted for laws that have nothing to do with public safety and will do nothing to make people safer,” he said. “And maybe now we will start prosecuting criminals and perpetrators of these heinous acts.”
The court’s decision is somewhat irrelevant to public opinion. About half of voters in the 2020 presidential election said gun laws in the US need to be tightened, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive electoral poll. An additional one-third of these laws should be maintained, while only about 1 in 10 of these weapons laws should be less stringent.
About 8 in 10 Democratic voters said gun laws need to be tightened, VoteCast showed. Among Republican voters, about half said the laws should be obeyed as they are, while the other half narrowly divided between more and less strict.
In a dispute involving his liberal colleagues, Judge Stephen Breyer focused on reports of armed violence.
“Since the beginning of this year,” 277 mass shootings have already been reported – an average of more than one a day, “Breyer wrote. He accused the majority of his colleagues of acting “without taking into account the potentially deadly consequences” of their decision. He said the decision would “seriously burden” states’ efforts to pass laws “that restrict, in various ways, who can buy, carry or use firearms of various kinds”.
Several other conservative judges who took part in Thomas’s majority also wrote separately to add their views.
Judge Samuel Alito criticized Breyer’s disagreement, questioning the importance of his debate on mass shootings and other gun death statistics. Alito wrote that the court had not ruled “anything about who can legally possess a firearm or the conditions that must be met to buy a firearm” and nothing “about the types of weapons that humans can possess” .
“Unfortunately, many Americans today have good reason to fear falling victim to failing to protect themselves.” The second amendment, he said, “guarantees their right to do so.”
Judge Brett Kavanaugh, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, outlined the decision. States may still require people to obtain a firearms license, Kavanaugh wrote, and licensed “fingerprints, a history check, a mental health check and training in firearms handling and use laws.” among other possible requirements. “
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Armed violence erupted during the coronavirus pandemic. Arms markets have also grown.
In most countries, gun owners find it difficult to carry their weapons legally in public. But this was more difficult to do in New York and in the few states with similar laws. New York law, which has been in force since 1913, states that in order to carry a concealed weapon in public, a person applying for a license must show “the appropriate cause,” a specific need to carry the weapon.
The state had issued unlimited licenses where a person could carry a weapon anywhere and limited permits that allowed a person to carry a weapon but only for specific purposes such as hunting and shooting or to and from his place of business.
The New York law challenge came from the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization, and two men seeking unlimited ability to carry guns outside their homes.
The Supreme Court last issued a major arms case in 2010. In this and a 2008 ruling, judges established a national right to keep a firearm at home for self-defense. The question for the court this time was just carrying a gun outside the house. Thomas, who turned 74 on Thursday, wrote in his opinion that: “Nothing in the text of the Second Amendment distinguishes between a residence / a public place in relation to the right to bear and bear arms.”
Associated Press reporters Mark Sherman, Hannah Fingerhut and Zeke Miller in Washington and Michael Hill in East Greenbush, New York, contributed to this report.