A key new ruling on Thursday from the nation's high court on Second Amendment protections elicited a flurry of responses on both sides of the conversation on the right to keep and bear arms.
A 6-3 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court this week found New York's long-standing requirement to prove a cryptic "good cause" as part of the state's "may-issue" concealed carry permitting scheme was unconstitutional. While the majority of the country, 43 states, practice a simpler "shall issue" program for granting permits – and 25 of those have codified permitless carry – seven states, a few territories, and the District of Columbia require so much red tape that it is much harder if not impossible for a law-abiding citizen to secure a permit to carry a handgun outside of the home.
The landmark decision, penned by Justice Clarence Thomas, found New York's may issue program didn't square with the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.
Pro-gun groups say it was the right call
"Government bureaucrats have routinely been arbitrary and all-too-eager to prevent honest people from having the means to defend themselves against violent crime outside of their homes," said Second Amendment Foundation Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. "This pattern of exclusivity—allowing only those with wealth and political connections to legally carry guns in public—has been an affront to the constitution for decades, and now officials in a handful of other states with similar arbitrary requirements are on notice they can no longer perpetuate what amounts to an outrage against the constitution."
Jason Ouimet, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, said "This is more than just a great day for New York because this ruling opens the door to rightly change the law in the seven remaining jurisdictions that still don’t recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection."
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for America's firearms industry, welcomed the fact that the decision affirms that the Second Amendment is an individual right that may be exercised both in the home and in public. Larry Keane, NSSF's senior vice president and general counsel explained, “This establishes that ‘may issue’ permitting schemes that relegate the Second Amendment to a second-class right that can be meted out by government bureaucrats are unconstitutional. The firearm industry is tremendously grateful to the U.S. Supreme Court’s faithful application of Constitutional rights."
May-Issue States Shocked but Ready
You can tell just how big a ruling this is for gun rights by the pearl-clutching responses from career politicians in blue states that will soon have to scrap their "may-issue" practices or face a blizzard of new legal challenges.
Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York is weighing calling a special session of the legislature to implement even more gun control laws despite having just signed 10 such bills earlier this month. In a half-hour press conference, the Democrat, who took office after Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned under a cloud of scandal last November, Hochul on Thursday said "My team has been preparing for this decision and exploring every possible action, and we are in discussions with the legislature about our legislative options."
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he plans a "comprehensive review of our approach to defining ‘sensitive locations’ where carrying a gun is banned," while reviewing the city's notoriously corrupt gun permit application process to make sure "only those who are fully qualified can obtain a carry license." In The Big Apple, the politics behind getting a permit is such a running gag that it was even the subject of an episode of the Showtime drama "Billions."
Meanwhile, in California, a state that could see potentially millions of gun owners who have arbitrarily been denied carry permits over the years suddenly able to get one under a "shall issue" process, Gov. Gavin Newsom held his own press conference blasting the court's actions.
"Our state will continue to lead in the fight to keep our people safe," said Newsom. "Next week, I will have 16 new gun safety bills on my desk, including a bill that will allow individuals to sue gun makers and distributors for violating certain gun laws. I look forward to signing all of those bills."
From the White House, President Biden urged such states to keep passing and enforcing gun control laws while saying, "I remain committed to doing everything in my power to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. I have already taken more executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other President during their first year in office, and I will continue to do all that I can to protect Americans from gun violence."