US Supreme Court overturns New York gun law in major ruling

23 June 2022, 16:18

The US Supreme Court has struck down a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago.
The US Supreme Court has struck down a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The US Supreme Court has overturned a New York law that requires residents to have "proper cause" to carry a handgun in public.

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The law was enacted more than a century ago in 1913 and placed restrictions on those who carry a concealed handgun outside the home.

The 6-3 decision stated the requirement violates the Constitutional right to bear arms in a landmark victory for gun rights advocates.

The ruling jeopardises similar restrictions in other states and expands gun rights in a nation which is deeply divided over how to address gun violence.

In most of the country gun owners have little difficulty legally carrying their weapons in public.

But that had been harder to do in New York and the handful of states with similar laws.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the six-justice conservative majority on the court, held that Americans have a right to carry "commonly used" firearms for personal defence.

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It found that the state's law violated a person's right to "keep and bear arms" under the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment right to bear arms is not a "second class" constitutional right subject to greater restrictions "than other Bill of Rights guarantees," Justice Thomas wrote.

Liberal justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dissented.

About a quarter of the US population live in states expected to be affected by the ruling.

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have similar laws likely to be challenged as a result of the ruling.

The Biden administration had urged the justices to uphold New York's law.

Backers of New York's law argued that striking it down would ultimately lead to more guns on the streets and higher rates of violent crime.

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

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Teenage gunman, Salvador Ramos, was able to get into Robb Elementary in Ulvade, Texas, last month, where he killed 21 people.

No armed guard challenged him before he fatally shot 19 children and two teachers.

The tragedy unfolded just days after a white supremacist killed 10 people and injured three others in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo.