Why the Supreme Court Decided to Relax Gun Carry in the US | World

In its most important gun judgment in more than a decade, the US Supreme Court struck down a New York law that restricted civilians from carrying guns on the street.

Exactly a month after the Texas elementary school massacre, which killed 19 children and prompted Republicans and Democrats in Congress to work together for more restrictive legislation on access to guns in the country, the court resolved to expand gun rights.

  • US states say they will maintain gun restrictions despite Supreme Court ruling
  • US Supreme Court rules in favor of the right to bear arms in public

On behalf of the six justices who make up the current conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the U.S. Constitution guarantees American citizens the right to carry firearms that he described as “commonly used” in public (such as pistols). for self defense.

US Supreme Court rules in favor of the right to bear arms in public

US Supreme Court rules in favor of the right to bear arms in public

Thus, the court ruled that a New York law that required residents to prove “adequate cause” to be able to bear arms in public violates the US Constitution.

“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not a second-class right, subject to an entirely different set of rules than other guarantees,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual can exercise only after demonstrating to government officials some special need to do so.”

The decision, which undermines similar regulations in states like California and New Jersey, should allow more people to legally carry guns. About a quarter of Americans live in states that could be affected if their own rules, similar to New York’s, are challenged.

The three liberal judges of the Court – Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer – took a vote of dissent, that is, they disagreed with the majority opinion. They argued that the court could not ignore the epidemic of massacres facing the country when deciding on the Second Amendment to the country’s constitution – the one that guarantees Americans the right to guns.

In his dissent, Judge Breyer noted that gun violence claimed a significant number of lives in the US in 2022.

Protest calling for gun control in the US – Photo: Getty Images/Via BBC

“As of the beginning of this year, there have been 277 mass shootings reported – an average of more than one per day,” wrote Breyer, on behalf of the minority.

He then listed some of the most dramatic cases ever experienced in the country: “Newspapers report mass shootings at an entertainment venue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (3 killed and 11 wounded); an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas (21 killed); a supermarket in Buffalo, New York (10 killed and 3 injured); a spa in Atlanta, Georgia (8 killed); a busy street in Dayton, Ohio (9 killed and 17 injured); a nightclub in Orlando, Florida (50 killed and 53 injured); a church in Charleston, South Carolina (9 killed); a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado (12 killed and 50 injured); an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut (26 killed); and many, many more.”

Thomas, however, rejected the idea that public safety concerns were reason enough to justify gun controls. Instead, he said the government had to prove “that its firearms regulation is part of the country’s historical tradition” on the issue.

The US, however, is experiencing a climate of mourning and trauma in the face of the volume of recent victims of serial shooters.

This week, ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision, the US Senate announced measures for new legislation that restricts access to firearms. Lawmakers have tried to build bipartisan support for the rules, despite the deep divisions the issue causes between Democrats, who are more pro-restriction, and Republicans, who tend to reject any limitation.

US President Joe Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” by the court’s decision, which he said “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should upset everyone.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams said he would review other ways to restrict access to guns, such as tightening the firearms application process and reviewing bans in certain locations.

“We cannot allow New York to become a wild west,” he added.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), on the other hand, celebrated the judgment.

The gun lobby backed the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit who defied New York law: Robert Nash and Brandon Koch are two New Yorkers who applied for a permit to carry that they were denied, despite both having recreational gun licenses.

The US has more weapons in circulation than people in the country. There are 390 million weapons owned by civilians, against 329.5 million people. In 2020 alone, more than 45,000 Americans died from firearm-related injuries, including homicides and suicides.

Thursday’s decision, 6/23, continues a steady pattern of decisions that have expanded gun rights, holding that the right to carry firearms both in the home and in public is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

Even in the shadow of the mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, the six-judge majority on the Supreme Court held to a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment first outlined by a narrower majority of the court in 2008.

The last historic gun decision issued by the court was in 2010, which affirmed the right to bear arms for both state entities and individuals.

As these judicial precedents accumulate, it will be increasingly difficult for future Supreme Court justices to change course and interpret the Constitution as allowing broader restrictions on guns.

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About Abhishek Pratap

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