WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down a law in New York governing the concealed carry of firearms as being “unconstitutionally restrictive,” saying that the pathway to obtaining such a license should be less difficult.
On a vote of 6-3, the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s law – which required those applying for a concealed carry license to demonstrate “proper cause” and allowed officials wide latitude in determining if that bar has been cleared – was a violation of the Second Amendment.
The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, was the Supreme Court’s first major ruling on a gun case in over ten years.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who co-authored the Court’s 63-page opinion on the ruling, noted that the New York law refrained from establishing exactly what “proper cause” amounted to, and that a simple desire on the applicant’s part to protect themselves or their property was sufficient cause to grant a concealed carry license.
“In this case, petitioners and respondents agree that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have a similar right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense. We too agree, and now hold…that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” Thomas said. “Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”
Previously, only those who demonstrated a “special need for self-protection” were granted the right to carry a concealed weapon by New York officials, Thomas noted.
“This ‘special need’ standard is demanding,” Thomas wrote. “For example, living or working in an area ‘noted for criminal activity’ does not suffice.”
43 other states in the country have far less stringent guidelines for granting concealed carry licenses, without the latitude to set their own specific requirements regarding what is and isn’t “proper cause.”
While the decision was a major win for gun rights activists, President Joe Biden expressed that he was “deeply disappointed” with the Court’s verdict, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul exclaimed that her state was “just getting started,” saying that she is “prepared to go back to muskets” via gun restrictions.
“Does everyone understand what a concealed weapon means? That you have no forewarning that someone can hide a weapon on them and go into our subways, going to our grocery stores, like stores up in Buffalo, New York, where I’m from,” Hochul said. “This decision isn’t just reckless. It’s reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want. And we should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.”