The six unpaid (or, perhaps, paid) sales-and-marketing agents of the for-profit firearms industry who happen to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States have struck down New York State’s licensing regime for firearm carry permits, according to Law360, “expanding the scope of the Second Amendment to outside the home for the first time.”
The case Syllabus summarizes the holding as follows:
New York’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.
The state law at the heart of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen required anyone who wants to carry a concealed handgun outside the home to show “proper cause” for the license. New York courts interpreted that phrase to require applicants to show more than a general desire to protect themselves or their property. Instead, applicants must demonstrate a special need for self-defense – for example, a pattern of physical threats. Several other states, including California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, impose similar restrictions, as do many cities.
Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion. Stephen Breyer wrote a lengthy dissent. I’ll have more to say once I’ve read them.
The United States just became a much more dangerous place.
Upon reading the decisions, it seems to me that in order to have any restrictions on the Right to Bear Arms for Self-Defense™ the state cannot take into consideration the present state and the present risks of gun violence in that state, but must find some “historical” precedent for whatever restriction it wants to impose. This echoes the leaked opinion overturning Roe which essentially holds that if an individual right is not “deeply rooted in American history and tradition” then it’s not an enforceable right. Now, we’re told that a restriction on firearms that isn’t “deeply rooted in American history and tradition” violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.
In other words, the conservatives on the Court are not only signaling their willingness to turn American law and society back to the19th century and undo the last 200 years of progress, they’re actually doing it.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.