The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that longtime restrictions New York has placed on carrying concealed firearms violates Americans’ Second and 14th Amendment rights.
The high court ruled 6-3 in favor of gun rights in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. The court heard oral arguments in the case in November, and the court’s conservative majority appeared to lean toward dismissing New York’s restrictions at the time. Thursday’s decision is the widest expansion of gun rights in more than a decade, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The case centered on a 1911 New York state law that conditioned the right to a concealed carry permit on “good moral character” and “proper cause.” The Supreme Court majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, took issue with the latter condition, which unlawfully forced New Yorkers to demonstrate “a special need for self-defense.”
“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense,” Thomas wrote.
“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,” he added.
The Supreme Court’s decision against New York calls into question gun laws in at least eight other states and the District of Columbia, according to WSJ.
New York bans carrying handguns openly, making conceal carry the only option for residents who want to carry a handgun on their person outside of their own home. The Supreme Court case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by two New York residents, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, who sued the state after they were denied concealed carry permits due to a lack of proper cause, as the 1911 law stipulated.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul reacted to the ruling in a blistering statement on Thursday: “It is outrageous that at a moment of national reckoning on gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that limits those who can carry concealed weapons.”
Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Eric Adams suggested that rolling back New York’s concealed carry restrictions would result in a “wild,wild West” environment. New York’s concealed carry laws are some of the strictest in the United States.