Supreme Court strikes New York gun law in major ruling

The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a restrictive gun law in New York in a landmark ruling on gun rights.

The judges’ 6-3 decision is expected to eventually 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, the Supreme Court’s first major gun decision in more than a decade.

The ruling comes as Congress is actively working on gun laws following recent mass shootings in Texas, New York and California.

Judge Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution “protects a person’s right to carry a gun outdoors for self-defense”. In their decision, the judges overturned a New York law that requires people to demonstrate a specific need to carry a gun in order to obtain a license to carry one in public. The judges 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 that are likely to be challenged as a result of the ruling. The Biden administration had urged judges to uphold the New York law.

Supporters of the New York law had argued that knocking it down would eventually lead to more guns on the streets and more violent crime. The decision comes at a time when gun violence, which had already increased during the coronavirus pandemic, has once again increased.

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

The state issues unrestricted licenses that allow a person to carry their weapon anywhere and limited licenses that allow a person to carry the weapon but only for specific purposes such as hunting and shooting at targets or to and from their business.

The Supreme Court last issued a major gun decision in 2010. In that decision and a 2008 ruling, the judges established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. The question in court this time was about wearing one outdoors.

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