Breaking Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s “proper-cause” requirement to obtain a concealed-carry license is unconstitutional as it violates ordinary citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
The Associated Press reports:
The court’s decision struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry one in public. The justices said that requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” That right is not a “second-class right,” Thomas wrote. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”
National Review reports, “The Court voted 6–3 to strike down the New York law, which has been in place since 1913 and required that people show a special need to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home.” The Court’s three liberal justices dissented.
The Justices not only wrote opinions, but also addressed the opposing opinions. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent accusing the majority opinion of deciding the case “without discussing the nature or severity” of gun violence. Justice Samuel Alito responded to Breyer’s concern in his concurring opinion:
“Why, for example, does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years?” Alito wrote, arguing that the New York law did not stop the 18-year-old shooter who killed ten people in a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., last month.
The case comes after plaintiffs Robert Nash and Brandon Koch of upstate New York were denied carry permits in 2016 and 2018 because they did not “face any special or unique danger” to their lives.
They were authorized to carry guns for target practice and hunting away from populated areas and Koch was permitted to carry a gun to and from work.
“Nash and Koch did not receive unrestricted licenses because neither demonstrated a nonspeculative need to carry a handgun virtually anywhere in public,” Barbara D. Underwood, New York’s solicitor general, wrote in a brief.
Nash and Koch successfully argued that having to demonstrate a need for self-protection to acquire a concealed-carry permit was unconstitutional.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to carry a gun outside the home, adding that the state’s “proper cause” requirement “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, that the ruling “does not prohibit States from imposing licensing requirements for carrying a handgun for self-defense.”
“In particular the Court’s decision does not affect the existing licensing regimes — known as ‘shall-issue’ regimes — that are employed in 43 states,” he wrote, adding that states with proper-cause requirements “may continue to require licenses for carrying handguns for self-defense so long as those States employ objective licensing requirements like those used by the 43 shall-issue States.”