NY Supreme Court strikes down century-old gun law

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The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago that imposes restrictions on carrying a gun outside the home — an opinion that marks the biggest expansion of gun rights in a country. decade.

“Because the State of New York issues public bear licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution,” Judge Clarence Thomas wrote to the court’s 6-3 majority. .

The opinion changes the framework that lower courts will use in the future when considering other gun restrictions, which could include proposals currently in Congress if they eventually become law.

“The expansion of most of what the Second Amendment protects will have monumental ramifications far beyond the carrying of firearms in public — on everything from age restrictions to gun bans to limits on high-capacity magazines,” he told the BBC. CNN Steve Vladeck, a Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

“We are in a new series of litigation challenging any and all gun control measures in light of today’s decision analysis,” Vladeck said.

Critics say the decision will undermine sensible solutions they think can curb gun violence.

Only six other states have similar laws to New York—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey—similar regulations, but these states are made up of some of the most densely populated cities in the country.

Twenty-five states generally allow people to carry guns outside the home in most public spaces without any permits, background checks or safety training, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

In his view, Thomas said that going forward the government “may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest”, rather, he said that judges should look to the text and history when deciding whether a law is approved.

“Only if a firearms regulation is consistent with the historic tradition of this nation can a court conclude that the individual’s conduct is outside the unskilled command of the Second Amendment,” Thomas said.

Dissidents cite recent mass shootings

In a dissent joined by other liberals, Judge Stephen Breyer noted the wave of gun violence and told the court, listing several recent shootings, including the Buffalo grocery store massacre earlier this year. Thursday’s decision “severely puts pressure on states’ efforts” to curb gun violence, Breyer wrote.

“The main difference between the Court’s view and mine is that I believe the Amendment allows States to address the serious problems caused by the armed violence I just described,” Breyer wrote. “I fear that the Court’s interpretation ignores these significant dangers and leaves States without the ability to address them.”

Judge Samuel Alito, in a concurring opinion, retorted: “And how does dissent explain the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of your list took place in Buffalo? The New York law at issue in this case obviously does not stop this perpetrator.”

Conservative judges also dismissed concerns raised by New York gun law advocates over how the legislation restricted the carrying of firearms in sensitive locations.

“It is true that people sometimes gather in ‘sensitive places’, and it is also true that law enforcement professionals are often available in these isolated places. But expanding the category of ‘sensitive places’ simply to all places of public congregation that are not far from law enforcement defines the category of ‘sensitive places’ too broadly,” Thomas wrote.

First major gun decision in a decade

Since delivering two major Second Amendment cases in 2008 and 2010, the court largely evaded the issue but agreed to return to the matter after the arrival of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, highlighting its impact on the new Conservative court.

In 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller, the court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in the home for self-defense. Except for a follow-up ruling two years later, the judges largely stayed away from the issue that infuriated gun rights advocates and even some of the judges themselves.

Thomas and other conservatives have made it clear that they believe lower courts are unhappy with Heller’s decision to maintain the restrictions. “The Second Amendment is a disadvantaged right in this courtroom,” Thomas said earlier.

The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, concerned a New York law governing licenses to carry loaded firearms for public possession for self-defense. It required a resident to obtain a permit to carry a pistol or revolver outside the home and demonstrate that there is “proper cause” for the permit. Residents must show that they have a great need for the permit and that they face a “special or unique danger to their lives”.

The law requires applicants who wish to carry a weapon in public without restrictions to demonstrate a need for “real and articulable” self-defense, as opposed to one that is “speculative or illusory”.

A panel of judges from the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals found that New York law did not violate the Second Amendment.

The Biden administration supported New York and told the Supreme Court in a brief that while the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, the right “is not absolute.”

Acting Attorney General Brian Fletcher told judges that the law was “firmly grounded” in the country’s history.

The petitioners in the case were Robert Nash, Brandon Koch and the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association — an affiliate of the NRA (National Rifle Association). They were represented by Paul Clement, the George W. Bush-era attorney general, who argued that the Second Amendment guarantees the right not just to “keep weapons” but to bear them.

Nash and Koch passed required background checks and obtained licenses to carry weapons for hunting and target shooting, but were unable to establish a special self-defense need required by law to receive an unrestricted license.

Clement argued that the law makes it nearly impossible for an ordinary individual to obtain a license because the “just cause” standard is too demanding and left to the “broad interpretation” of the ruling officer.

“Good, even impeccable, moral character plus a simple desire to exercise a fundamental right,” Clement said, “is not enough.” “Nor living or being employed in a high crime area.”

Nash, for example, asked to carry a gun for self-defense after a series of robberies in his neighborhood. But he was denied because he did not demonstrate a special need for self-defense. Koch wanted a similar license and was able to cite his experience of participating in security training courses. He was also denied.

Source: CNN Brasil

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