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The U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for nearly all law-abiding Americans to carry concealed and loaded handguns in public, after the conservative majority struck down a New York law that imposed restrictions restrictions on firearms outside the home.

The governor of New York, a Democrat, said the decision was “not just reckless, it’s reprehensible.” Pointing to recent mass shootings in New York and Texas, a leading progressive group called the decision “shameful and outrageous.”

Joe Biden said: “This decision contradicts both common sense and the constitution and should trouble us all deeply.”

On the left, outrage is growing at the court’s march to the right. Earlier this week, the court issued a ruling attacking the separation of church and state. As of Friday, he is expected to undermine or remove the right to abortion, guaranteed since 1973, and reduce the federal government’s ability to reduce emissions contributing to the climate crisis.

New York’s law struck down on Thursday required anyone wishing to carry a handgun in public to prove they had a “good reason” for doing so.

The decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen makes the law an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

In his decision, Judge Clarence Thomas wrote, “Apart from a few atypical jurisdictions in the late 19th century, American governments simply have not widely banned the public carrying of firearms commonly used for personal defense. Nor have they generally required responsible, law-abiding citizens to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinct from that of the community at large” in order to bear arms in public.”

The New York law, Thomas wrote, also violated the 14th Amendment, which made Second Amendment rights applicable to states.

In his statement, Biden pointed to the longevity of New York’s gun laws and the Supreme Court’s past acceptance of the need to regulate gun ownership.

The President said: “Since 1911, New York State has required persons wishing to carry a concealed weapon in public to demonstrate that they need it for the purpose of self-defense and require a license. More than a century later, the United States Supreme Court has chosen to overrule New York’s long-established authority to protect its citizens.

Biden added: “As the end [conservative] Justice [Antonin] Scalia acknowledged, the Second Amendment is not absolute. For centuries, states have regulated who can buy or own guns, what kinds of guns they can use, and where they can carry those guns. The courts have upheld these regulations.

“I call on Americans across the country to raise their voices on gun safety. Lives are at stake.”

US Supreme Court strikes down New York handgun law in blow to gun control |  Gun control in the United States
Biden said the decision “contradicts common sense and the constitution.” Photography: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The decision has profound implications for the safety and conduct of up to 83 million people in New York and seven other states plus Washington DC with similar “good cause” laws. They include highly populated states, such as California and New Jersey, which have about three out of four Americans.

Just weeks ago, an 18-year-old carrying a legally purchased assault rifle shot and killed 10 people in a racist attack on a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York.

Ten days later, another 18-year-old broke into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 19 children and two adults before being shot dead by law enforcement.

Democratic and Republican senators have since agreed to a framework for gun reform. On Thursday, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said the proposals didn’t “put your finger on the Second Amendment” and would make the country safer. But any gun legislation inevitably faces strong headwinds, with the potential to blow all the way to court that McConnell helped pack with the Tories.

In his disagreement with New York’s decision, Stephen Breyer, a soon-to-retire liberal judge, wrote: “In 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms. Since the start of this year, 277 mass shootings have been reported, an average of more than one per day.

“Gun violence has now overtaken road traffic accidents as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents. Many states have attempted to address some of the dangers of gun violence just described by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who can purchase, carry, or use firearms of various types.

“The court today weighs heavily on states’ efforts to do so.”

Rahna Epting, executive director of the progressive group MoveOn, lamented “a shameful and outrageous decision that will lead to more deaths and more violence”, adding: “The Supreme Court, full of conservatives, together with Republicans in Congress, ensure that our schools, our grocery stores and our churches will continue to be targets of violence and not the sanctuaries and safe places they should be.

The court has consistently undermined gun laws. In 2008, he recognized the right to keep firearms at home for self-defense. It extended this right in 2010.

The New York case reached court after two men sued the state. Under the “good cause” law, men could only obtain indefinite permission to carry concealed weapons in public if they could demonstrate a particular need for self-protection. The lawyers argued that carrying a gun outside the home was a “fundamental constitutional right. It is not an extraordinary action that requires an extraordinary demonstration of need.

Several civil rights and gun safety groups tried to dissuade the court from undermining New York’s regulations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has argued that lifting controls on carrying guns in public places would undermine First Amendment rights such as assembly, association and speech. Gun control advocates have warned that scrapping the law could strain relations between police and citizens, as anyone who comes into contact with law enforcement is more likely to be legally armed.

On Thursday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said, “The Supreme Court is taking us backwards in dealing with gun violence… This decision is not only reckless, it is reprehensible. Hochul also said she was “prepared to call the Legislature back in session to settle this matter”.

Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, said the decision would “not deter us from standing up to the gun lobby and their repeated efforts to endanger New Yorkers.”

Brian Frosh, Attorney General of Maryland, said the decision “would make life for law enforcement more difficult and perilous. The epidemic of gun violence sweeping our country demonstrates daily the folly of introducing more weapons into this boiling cauldron.

Epting said: “It is hard to imagine a Supreme Court further removed from the people. Common sense policies aimed at reducing gun violence are supported by nine out of 10 Americans. This court has once again shown its true colors. He is no more than the political arm of the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.

Pointing to McConnell’s unprecedented denial of even a hearing to Barack Obama’s third nominee – Merrick Garland, now attorney general – and the confirmation of three justices under Donald Trump, Epting said Republicans “stole seats and filled this court to enact what voters repeatedly rejected at the ballot box.

“It is high time to expand the court, to reform it and to restore the balance of our judicial system.



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