US Supreme Court Expands Gun Rights, Overturns New York Handgun Law

The US Supreme Court overturned a New York gun law, which may prove to be a setback for stricter gun control.

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Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, the United States Supreme Court said Thursday, 23 June. This ruling will result in more people becoming legally armed, according to a report by Associated Press.

The expansion of gun rights comes in the wake of a series of mass shootings that have impacted the US. Moreover, the US Congress and state legislatures continue the debate on gun control.

The Supreme Court also struck down a New York gun law, which will not only affect New York but also California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. These states have laws similar to New York and they are expected to be challenged soon.

The law in New York required people to show a specific reason or need for carrying a gun. Only after portraying a particular reason could people receive a licence to carry a gun in a concealed manner in public.

The justices of the Supreme Court overturned this law by saying that it violates the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms."

The justices' opinions split the court 6-3, with the conservatives in the majority and the liberals in dissent.

Statement in Favour of Supreme Court's Ruling

Justice Clarence Thomas said the Constitution protects "an individual's right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home," in his statement for the majority.

"We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need."
Justice Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court Judge

Dissenting Statement Against Supreme Court's Ruling

Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissenting statement, harped on the death toll from gun violence.

Since the start of 2022, "there have already been 277 reported mass shootings--an average of more than one per day," he wrote. He accused the judges in the majority of not considering the potential "deadly consequences."

Breyer added that this ruling would put undue pressure on states' attempts to pass laws that seek to limit access to different kinds of firearms.

President Biden's Remarks

US President Joe Biden released a statement that said he was "deeply disappointed" by the Supreme Court ruling. He urged states to pass new laws. He said that the decision by the Supreme Court "should deeply trouble us all" as it "contradicts both common sense and the Constitution."

"I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line."
Joe Biden, US President.

Democratic Governor of New York Kathy Hochul said this ruling has come at an inopportune time, especially when New York is still reeling from the shock of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo that killed 10 people, and the Brooklyn subway shooting.

"This decision isn't just reckless. It's reprehensible. It's not what New Yorkers want."
Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York

Some Republican Lawmakers Celebrate 

Some Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, celebrated the decision of the US Supreme Court.

Tom King, president of the plaintiff New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said he hoped that now the lawmakers would "start going after criminals and perpetrators of these heinous acts."

Mass Shootings in 2022

Within the year 2022, there have been about 227 mass shootings in the United States, out of which 27 occurred in schools. From the armed gunman who killed school children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas, to the 10 Black people who died in the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, the recent spat of shootings by armed gunmen has led to heated debates over gun control laws and the sanctity of the Second Amendment in this era.

(With inputs from Associated Press, The Washington Post.)

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