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Supreme Court expands gun rights, hitting New York’s limits

WASHINGTON — In a major expansion of gun rights, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have the right to carry guns in public for self-defense.

The decision follows recent mass shootings and should ultimately 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 US population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling, which struck down a gun law in New York. The ruling, the first major High Court ruling on guns in more than a decade, was 6-3 with the court’s Tories in the majority and the Liberals dissenting.

The decision comes as Congress works to pass gun legislation following mass shootings in Texas, New York and California. On Thursday, senators were expected to pave the way for this measure, modest in scope but still the most ambitious in decades.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision, which he said “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should trouble us all deeply.”

He urged states to pass new laws and said, “I call on Americans across the country to raise their voices on gun safety. Lives are at stake.”

In the opinion itself, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun in self-defence outside his home.”

The decision invalidated a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a special need to carry a firearm in order to obtain a license to carry 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 all have similar laws. The Biden administration had urged judges to uphold New York law.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the decision comes at a particularly painful time, as New York still mourns the deaths of 10 people in a mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket. “This decision is not only reckless. It’s wrong. It’s not what New Yorkers want,” she said.

But Tom King, president of the plaintiff New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said he was relieved.

“The legal, legal gun owner in New York State will no longer be persecuted by laws that have nothing to do with human safety and will do nothing to make people safer,” a he declared. “And maybe now we will start prosecuting the criminals and the perpetrator of these heinous acts.”

In a legal dissent joined by fellow Liberals, Justice Stephen Breyer focused on the toll of gun violence. “Since the start of this year alone (2022), there have already been 277 reported mass shootings, an average of more than one per day,” Breyer wrote.

Proponents of the New York law had argued that overturning it would lead to more guns on the streets and higher rates of violent crime. Gun violence, which was already on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic, has increased again.

In most countries, gun owners have little difficulty legally carrying their guns in public. But that had been harder to do in New York and the handful of states with similar laws. New York law, which has been in effect since 1913, states that to carry a concealed handgun in public, a person applying for a license must show a “good cause,” a specific need to carry the weapon.

The state issues unlimited licenses where a person can carry their gun anywhere and restricted licenses which allow a person to carry the gun but only for specific purposes such as hunting and target shooting or worms. and from his place of business.

The Supreme Court last handed down a major gun ruling in 2010. In that ruling and a 2008 ruling, the justices established a national right to keep a gun in the home for self-defense. The question for the court this time was about carrying one out of the house.

The New York law challenge was brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest gun advocacy organization, and two men seeking to be able to carry guns without restriction at outside their homes.

The court’s decision is somewhat out of step with public opinion. About half of voters in the 2020 presidential election said gun laws in the United States should be made tougher, according to AP VoteCast, a broad voter survey. A further third said laws should be kept as they are, while only around 1 in 10 said gun laws should be less stringent.

About 8 in 10 Democratic voters said gun laws should be made tougher, VoteCast showed. Among Republican voters, about half said the laws should be left as they are, while the other half were narrowly split between more and less stringent.


Associated Press reporters Hannah Fingerhut and Zeke Miller in Washington and Michael Hill in East Greenbush, New York, contributed to this report.

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