The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that New York’s century-old concealed handgun law violates the Second Amendment, a finding that local officials have long feared is a mainstay in efforts to curb the spread of handguns on New York City’s streets.
Resolution 6 to 3, which was the court’s most significant ruling on gun rights in more than a decade, rejected the state’s Sullivan Act, a law that limited concealed carry licenses for New Yorkers with specific self-defense needs.
It was widely expected that the Court’s conservative majority would turn to the gun law after hinting at their opposition during oral arguments in the fall. But the decision in the case, New York State Rifle and Handgun Association v. Bruin, dealt a blow to Democrats in New York and sparked swift anger from Brooklyn to Buffalo and beyond.
Judge Clarence Thomas, writing for a majority in a trial prepared by President Donald Trump, wrote that New York law violated the Constitution by preventing “law-abiding citizens with ordinary needs of self-defense from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”
State Governor Hochhol, responding to the minutes’ verdict, said the decision was “appalling” and “frightening in its scope.” She said her legal team was studying the 135-page opinion.
“The language we’re reading is shocking,” the governor said at a news conference in midtown Manhattan. “It is especially distressing for this to happen at this moment, when we are still dealing with families in pain from the mass shootings.”
The decision came 40 days after the bloody massacre in Buffalo, although the shooting was done with an assault rifle.
Hochhol said she plans to call the legislature to a special session in July to support the state’s gun laws, but she did not immediately set specific dates.
Mayor Adams, who has said for weeks that the Supreme Court’s potential move was keeping him from sleeping at night, declared Thursday that the decision made “each of us less safe,” ignoring the “horrific crisis of gun violence” in American language. cities.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision has opened an additional river that will feed a sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation,” Adams said at a news conference at City Hall.
However, Police Commissioner Kishant Sewell said the immediate impact in the city would be minimal, noting that the Supreme Court had returned the case to a lower court for further action.
“If you carry a gun illegally in New York City, you will be arrested,” Sewell said. “Nothing changes today.”
Adams pledged to deploy the full force of the city’s remaining legal powers to curb gun violence, and said the city would review its definition of so-called sensitive sites, where firearms are prohibited.
“We can’t allow New York to become the Wild West — that’s unacceptable,” Adams said. “Our work begins now.”
Lawmakers will now operate under the Washington judicial decrees that have greatly expanded constitutional gun rights in the twenty-first century. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision that Americans have a personal right to own Second Amendment brewed guns.
That ruling 5 to 4, in District of Columbia v. Heller, overturned a strict Washington gun control law that prohibited the possession of handguns in the home. The New York ruling went even further, expanding the protection of firearms into the public domain.
Two upstate New Yorkers, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, have challenged state law after their failed attempt to obtain unrestricted gun licenses, saying their constitutional right to bear arms had been curtailed.
The Supreme Court agreed, and Republican leaders cheered.
Representative Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, issued a statement saying that the ruling “correctly declares New York’s shameful attempt to shred New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights unconstitutional.”
Representative Lee Zelden, a Long Island Republican who is running for governor, said in a statement that the decision represented a “historic, rightful, and necessary victory for law-abiding New Yorkers.”
But a poll conducted by Siena College of New York last week found that about 79% of voters want the Supreme Court to support the law. The partisan gap was small: 82% of New York Democrats said they didn’t want the court to hit the law, and 79% of Republicans said the same.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement that the decision was “away from the mainstream and dangerous,” adding that it “contradicts the overwhelming public support for rational gun safety measures.”
“Now more than ever – especially given today’s horrific decision – more must be done to address gun violence, and we Democrats will continue to struggle to keep our communities safe,” Schumer said in the statement.
The case’s three liberal Supreme Court justices dissented, and two key conservative jurists – Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts – joined the majority in an agreeing opinion that seemed to limit the court’s move sweep.
In the favorable opinion, they said gun licensing laws “must be passed” in 43 states are still constitutional. These laws allow people who meet certain criteria to obtain permits.
The favorable opinion left open New York’s abilities to make licensing laws, as did a footnote in Thomas’ opinion, which said “nothing in our analysis should be construed as indicating unconstitutional licensing regimes ‘should be passed’ in 43 states.”
Hochhol said her office is “taking up the language” from the court.
“We think we have some options on the table, and that’s what we’re striving for,” Hochhol said, but added, “This is a very upsetting day. It goes against everything we’re trying to do here to protect citizens.”
President Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed,” and that the majority opinion of the Supreme Court “contradicts common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply upset all of us.”
He urged state legislatures to keep passing new gun laws.
“For centuries, states have regulated who can buy or hold guns, what types of guns they may use, and where they can carry those guns. Courts have upheld these regulations,” Biden said in the statement.
“I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard regarding gun safety,” he added in the statement. “Lives are at stake.”