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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, expanding gun rights for the first time in more than a decade.
The majority opinion, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, held that New York’s “proper cause” requirement for obtaining a concealed carry license violated the Constitution. Thomas wrote that the law “prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”
New York’s concealed carry restrictions, enacted more than a hundred years ago, required those who wish to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense to show “proper cause” rather than have a presumption of the right to carry. Similar laws exist in Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland, and California, where this ruling will have a huge ripple effect.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined the majority, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissenting.
“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,’” Thomas wrote in the opinion. “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.”
In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote: “Many states have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence… by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms of different kinds. The Court today severely burdens States’ efforts to do so.”
This is a developing story.