In its most significant decision on guns in more than a decade, the US Supreme Court has overturned a New York law that restricted gun-carrying rights.
It expands gun rights amid fierce national debates.
This decision could affect similar laws in New Jersey and California, but it will allow more people to legally carry guns.
A quarter of Americans live within states where gun restrictions could be challenged.
The court ruled that New York’s law requiring residents to show “proper cause” or a good explanation to conceal firearms in public is against the US Constitution.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote on behalf of six conservative judges that the majority of the court’s justices ruled that Americans are entitled to possess “commonly-used” firearms in public defense.
Three liberal justices, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer, dissented. This means they disagreed with majority opinion.
This court decision opens the door to legal challenges to similar restrictions in Maryland and California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
This comes amid growing political tensions about gun violence. These were exacerbated by the high-profile shootings at Uvalde, Texas’ primary school, and a Buffalo grocery store, New York last month.
President Joe Biden stated that he was deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court decision. He said it “contradicts both commonsense and the Constitution and should trouble all of us”.
Eric Adams, the New York City Mayor, stated that he will look at other options to limit gun access. This could include tightening the application process to purchase firearms or looking into bans in certain areas.
He said, “We cannot allow New York become the wild, wild West.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA), celebrated the verdict.
Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, two New Yorkers who applied for concealed carry permits but were denied, had been supported by the gun lobby. They also had licenses for recreational gun ownership.
In the US, civilians own more than 390m guns. More than 45,000 Americans were killed by firearm-related injuries in 2020, including suicides and homicides.
This Supreme Court ruling continues a long line of rulings that have increased gun rights. It holds that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to possess firearms at home as well as in public.
The Supreme Court’s conservative six-justice majority defended a broad interpretation to the Second Amendment, “keep and bear arm”, even in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde & Buffalo.
In 2010, the court issued its last major gun decision. It upheld individual gun-ownership rights in homes on a nationwide basis.
These court precedents will make it more difficult for future Supreme Court justices not to follow their lead and interpret the Constitution as allowing for greater gun restrictions.
Justice Breyer noted in his dissent that gun violence claimed a substantial number of lives in the US during this year.
He stated that there had been 277 mass shootings since the beginning of this year – an average of one per day.
On Thursday night, the Senate passed the first national gun control law in almost three decades by 65 votes to 33.
New laws include measures like expanding background checks for gun buyers younger than 21 and funding states with emergency programs to seize guns from those deemed dangerous by a judge.
Next, the bill must pass the US House of Representatives before it can be signed by President Biden.