The Supreme Court Strikes Down NY Gun Laws as Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a restrictive New York gun law in a significant ruling for gun rights.

The justices’ 6-3 decision is expected to allow more people to legally carry guns on the streets of the nation’s largest cities – including New York, Los Angeles, and Boston – and elsewhere. About a quarter of the U.S. population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling, the high court’s first significant gun decision in more than a decade. 

The ruling comes at the same time that  Congress is working on gun legislation following recent mass shootings nationwide.

In their decision, the justices struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun to get a license to have one in public. The justices said the requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have similar laws likely to be challenged due to the ruling. The Biden administration had urged the justices to uphold New York’s law.

Justice Thomas wrote for the conservative majority: “The exercise of other constitutional rights does not require individuals to demonstrate to government officers some special need. The Second Amendment right to carry arms in public for self-defense is no different. New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court’s three liberals: “In applying that approach to New York’s law, the Court fails to identify and analyze the relevant historical facts correctly. Only by ignoring an abundance of historical evidence supporting regulations restricting the public carriage of firearms can the Court conclude that New York’s law is not “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.