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The Supreme Court has just issued its most significant Second Amendment ruling in more than a decade.
CBS2’s Jessica Moore explains the logic behind the high court’s decision, and the impact on New Yorkers.
LINK: Read the Supreme Court’s decision | Listen to or read the arguments in the case
Current New York law says anyone seeking a license to carry a gun outside their house demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain one, which state courts have said is a “special need for self-protection.”
“The question before the Supreme Court is whether New York can do that? Do you need to show that you have this risk to have a concealed carry, or can anyone on the R train now have a gun in their back pocket?” said constitutional lawyer Andrew Lieb.
Challengers to the law argued the Second Amendment protects the right to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense, while supporters warn invalidating the restrictions could lead to more firearms on the streets. Supporters also maintain the Second Amendment was adopted to allow militias to fight the government, not allow everyday citizens to carry weapons for personal defense.
“The question here is just a very narrow one: Can any state, not just New York, say can you not have a gun when you’re walking around town unless you’re special? So the question is, is the default rule you can have the gun, and you need to take it away only for someone with mental illness, or is the default you can’t have the gun and you can only have it if you have a special need for safety?” Lieb said.
Even after the shootings in Buffalo, Texas, Tulsa, Philadelphia and Chattanooga over the course of just a few weeks, the majority conservative court ruled anyone can carry a gun anywhere.
Lieb says New Yorkers should brace for a shift in expectations.
“We’ve lived since 1911 with a law that says most people you’re talking to don’t have a gun on them. Now you’re going to feel like most people you’re talking to do have a gun on them. That creates a different energy going on. Most of us in New York knew if we wanted to live in that environment we could move to Texas,” Lieb said.
But attorney David Schwartz says the high court’s ruling simply allows regular people to carry a handgun in the state, not just the privileged few: Celebrities, ex-cops, those with cash businesses as it is currently.
“Someone who works late at night, that’s leaving work late. That could be a nurse, that could be anybody who hast to work around late at night, they don’t have a right, right now, to get a carry permit,” Schwartz said. “The idea that criminals will now and start applying for a license to get a carry permit I think is a little bit illogical. It’s going to be people who can’t show an extraordinary purpose but still want to carry a gun, and that really does fall within the heart of the Second Amendment.”
Schwartz says the state will still be allowed to regulate where people can carry firearms, and may exclude certain places like the subway system, ballparks, and schools.
The high court struck down the New York law on the grounds it’s too strict and gives too much discretion to state licensing officials.
The ruling marks a disappointment to many New Yorkers who think federal gun regulations should be stronger, not weaker.
“The state of New York has made strides in reducing gun violence and they continue to do so. We need the federal government to step up and to prioritize life-saving gun safety measures,” said Andrea Murray of Moms Demand Action.
New York state has no recourse on the Supreme Court’s ruling, barring a change in justices, or a constitutional amendment.
“Biden said it recently that you’re not going to win the fight – I’m paraphrasing – on what the Second Amendment says, but what we can do is take away the liability protections on the federal level for the manufacturers. And even though then the government wouldn’t be restricting people from having guns, the manufacturers, based on exposure concerns, would themselves be restricting people from having guns,” Lieb said.
Lieb pointed to the settlement reached in February that forced Remington to pay $73 million after the Sandy Hook massacre. Remington was the maker of the rifle used in the 2012 school shooting.
The settlement bankrupted the gun manufacturer.